John Mikel Obi opens up on Manchester United transfer saga and ‘best decision I have ever made’


John Mikel Obi has shed further light on his failed move to Manchester United many years ago.

The Nigerian this week announced his retirement from football. And one area he touched upon was the saga involving his near-move to Old Trafford.

Back in 2005 Mikel was a highly-rated youngster at Norwegian side Lyn with United tracking him. A deal was subsequently announced, Mikel was pictured in a United shirt and they even went as far as to hold a press conference. But the move sensationally broke down after Chelsea waded in and Mikel said he felt pressured into the move. Eventually, he became a Blues’ player and would spend 11 trophy-laden years at Stamford Bridge.

Following his decision to hang up his boots, the Nigerian took a trip down memory lane telling BBC Sport Africa : “I don’t regret any decision I made because I enjoyed everything I achieved at Chelsea – it’s the best decision I have ever made in my life.

“I acted as a young kid and as soon as Chelsea heard the news, they came and got me out of Norway. That’s when people started saying that I was kidnapped. It wasn’t a great moment for me then. I just wanted to play football because I was so young. I signed a pre-contract for Manchester United when I was 17. If you are a kid and you see Sir Alex Ferguson right in front of you with the contract, of course you will be tempted.

“(Jose) Mourinho decided that he wanted me to play the defensive midfield position. At the end of the day, he is the coach and made the decision. We discussed and he felt that because of the big midfield players he had in his squad at Chelsea that I should play the defensive midfield role.”

Mikel left Chelsea in 2017 and went on to play in China, Turkey and Kuwait as well as stints at Middlesbrough and Stoke.


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