Former Super Eagles Captain John Mikel Obi took to social media to announce his retirement from football after 20 years illustrious career.
The former midfield fat cat said: "there is a saying that “all good things must come to an end”, and for my professional football career, that day is today. ”
The 35 year Olympic Bronze medallist went on to thank all those people that supported his career whilst imploring young footballers not to give up on their dreams.
It is truly the end of an era.
One of the most shrewd, enigmatic and pragmatic footballers ever to come out of the shores of Nigeria, many fans will forever romanticise how Mikel’s career would have turned out had he not been converted to a defensive midfielder by coach Jose Mourinho.
In youth football, Mikel played a typical number 10 role with many fans expecting him to take the reins from the retiring great Jay Jay Okocha from 2006. Upon moving to Chelsea, Mourinho had other ideas and the rest, as they say, is history.
Still, Mikel – who has now announced his retirement from all football – had a glittering career.
From winning league titles and continental club trophies with Chelsea to being the last Nigeria captain to date to lift the Africa Cup of Nations in 2013 while playing a pivotal role in Nigeria’s last Olympic football medal to date; Mikel came, he saw and he definitely conquered.
But he had his critics, hell yeah! In club football, fans complained that he was a sideways passer of the ball with limited technique and abject creativity. For Nigeria, a section of fans complained he was way too slow on the ball and at times, a liability in midfield with others like Onazi and Azubuike doing the dirty work.
But these criticisms do not diminish his immense contributions to the course for club and country. Mikel was the epitome of calmness on the ball and did what was required in centre or defensive midfield to win trophies for club and country. His leadership skills and level headedness were off the charts and these rubbed off positively on many other players around him.
His moments of pure magic were few and far between but when he produced them, they were truly breath-taking and forever memorable. From opening the floodgate with his eloquent looping pass to Ighalo for the 4:1 rout against Cameroon in 2017 to the share brutality of retrieving the ball and sliding in Emenike against Zambia in the 2013 Afcon group stages, Mikel could always dial his charm up to eleven when he wanted to.
Now that his has finally hung his boot, I feel forever grateful for all the wonderful memories Mikel helped create for me as a Super Eagles fan.
From the ups of winning the 2013 Afcon to the downs of failing to the qualify for the 2015 edition. For the ups of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup against all odds and the massive downs of missing out on second round qualification to Argentina in Russia.
Being a Super Eagles fan is always nothing short of a roller-coaster ride. Thanks to Mikel for the journey, it was well worth it.
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