Nigeria’s Super Eagles captain and Tianjin TEDA player John Mikel Obi, has finally revealed why he rejected Manchester United to sign for Chelsea FC in the famous 2015 tug of war between both clubs that has been described as one of the most fascinating transfer sagas in modern football history.
According to recent revelation from the former Chelsea FC player, Mikel Obi says that he rejected Machester United in favor of Chelsea FC after the London-based club reportedly signed three other Nigerian players at that time.
In 2005, Mikel Obi was 18 years old and he was playing for Norwegian club Lyn Oslo before Manchester United signed a Pro-Contract with him and was also seen wearing Manchester United jersey. Although, Mikel was scouted by two of United’s legends Roy Keane and Paul Scholes who told the then Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson that he must sign John Obi Mikel.
However, at that time their were several different stories on Mikel, as he claimed he was forced to sign for the Old Trafford side and wanted to join the Blues, while there are some certain report by former United assistant manager Carlos Queiroz, who claimed that Chelsea had ‘kidnapped’ Mikel and Lyn director Morgan Andersen said Mikel was being pushed into a move to Chelsea.
In an interview with The Players’ Tribune, the Nigerian midfielder said it was because of his other countrymen at Stamford Bridge he snubbed United.
He said: “My Dad wasn’t too pleased about what happened either. He wanted me to go to Manchester United because he loved Alex Ferguson. Back home in Nigeria, a lot of people were saying I should go to United because of how well they work with young players, whereas Chelsea just bought superstars.
“And it’s true, I was only 18 years old and Chelsea had players like Lampard, Ballack, and Makélélé in midfield. A lot of people in Nigeria doubted that I could even make the Chelsea team if I went there.
“So … why did I turn down the biggest club in the world?
“I’ll tell you what happened. I had all these people on both sides fighting over me. Agents, managers, strangers, guys handing me papers. I had Sir Alex Ferguson calling me on the phone on one side. And I had Roman Abramovich on the other side, putting me up in London, hiding me somewhere where only a few people knew where I was. It was really confusing, and I was a kid, you know?
“After a while, someone from FIFA gave me a phone call. They said, ‘Listen, we know you’re young and you have these two clubs fighting over you. We can’t decide for you. You can only go where you want. You have to tell us.’
“I thought about it for a long time. It was the biggest decision of my life.
“You know what made my mind up? Chelsea had signed three other players from Nigeria along with me. They were staying with me at the house in London to keep me company. These guys … their lives depended on the decision I was making. If I went to United, they were gone. If I went to Chelsea, they were going to have a career. No matter how long it lasted, that was important to me. Just to give them a chance, you know?
“I chose Chelsea, and four lives changed that day.”