John Michael Nchekwube Obinna popularly known as Mikel Obi or John Mikel Obi is a famous Nigerian professional football player and an athlete who plays as a midfielder for his country Nigeria national team “Super Eagles” and English club “Chelsea”. As of January 2017, he currently plays for a Chinese club Tianjin TEDA on free transfer.
Mikel Obi was born on 22nd April 1987 in Jos, Plateau State in the northern part of Nigeria. He is currently 30 years old. He is the son of Michael Obi, who runs an inter-state transport company in Jos, the capital of Plateau State in the northern part of Nigeria. Mikel Obi is originally from Anambra State in the south eastern part of Nigeria but grew up in Jos, Plateau State in the northern part of Nigeria.
His father, Michael Obi was a member of the Igbo ethnic group “Nchekwube” meaning “hope” and “Obi” is a nickname for the Igbo name “Obinna” meaning “Father’s heart”.
Mikel Obi started his official football career at the age of 12 years old when he was picked as a talented footballer from over 3,000 young talents to play in Pepsi Football Academy, a team that was at that time popularly known for travelling across Nigeria scouting for young footballers with the potential to play professionally.
Mikel Obi stood out to scouts and was later picked to play for top-flight club “Plateau United” a club that had previously developed stars like Celetine Babayaro, Victor Obinna and Chris Obodo among others that are flying higher in the European leagues.
In 2003, Mikel Obi made headlines for his country at the FIFA Under-17 World Championships held in Finland. Following the tournament, he went on to a trial at South Africa club Ajax Cape Town, ultimately joining Oslo-based club Lyn Football in Norway.
During preparations for the 2003 FIFA Under-17 World Championships, the Nigerian Football Association (NFA) mistakenly submitted his name as “Mikel” instead of “Michael” for the tournament in Finland.
After winning the 2003 FIFA Under-17 World Championships and subsequently becoming a world celebrity, he decided to keep the new name “Mikel” saying that the name has a special ring to it.
On 31st July 2006, Mikel Obi stated that he prefers to be called John Mikel Obi instead of John Michael Obinna, as he had most commonly been called.
In the summer of 2005, Mikel Obi played for Nigeria at the FIFA World Youth Championships held in the Netherlands. He had an excellent tournament until Nigeria reached the final, where they lost 2–1 to Argentina. That year, Mikel Obi won the Silver Ball Award after being voted as the tournament’s second-best player.
On 29th April 2005, a few days after Mikel Obi turned 18 years old, Premier League club Manchester United announced that it had struck a deal with Lyn to sign Mikel Obi into Manchester United with a transfer worth £4 million and would see the player arrive at Old Trafford in January 2006.
Few days later, Manchester United’s rival in the Premier League club, Chelsea issued a counter-claim suggesting that they had already had an agreement with Mikel Obi and his agents, but Lyn denied the claim.
However, subsequent reports indicated that Chelsea claimed to have been involved in arranging the player’s original move to Europe with a view to signing him at a later date. Further substance was added to the claim after it was revealed that the player had impressed Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho while training with the club’s first-team squad during the summer of 2004.
On 2nd June 2006, Chelsea, Manchester United and Lyn reached a settlement to resolve the future of the player. Mikel Obi registration was to be transferred from Lyn to Chelsea. Manchester United finally agreed to terminate their agreement with Mikel Obi.
Under the terms of this agreement, Chelsea agreed to pay Manchester United £12 million, stating that half of the money will be paid upon the finalization of the contract and the other half of the money will be paid in June 2007.
Also, under the terms of this agreement, Chelsea agreed to pay Lyn £4 million, stating that half of the money will be paid immediately and the other half of the money will be paid in June 2007.
As a result of this settlement, all claims in this matter were withdrawn. On 19th July 2006, Mike Obi was officially signed to Chelsea with a transfer worth £16 million from Lyn and was mandated to begin training with Chelsea Football Club.
Mikel Obi was said to have win great favor from Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho who trusted his ability and decided to make him his first eleven. On his first outing with Chelsea, Mikel Obi made a good performance on the pitch which made Chelsea fans to applaud him for his wonderful performance.
On 12th August 2011, before the start of their league campaign, Mikel Obi father, Michael Obi was abducted by gunmen in Jos, Plateau State in the northern part of Nigeria. Mikel Obi was informed before Chelsea’s match against Stoke City two days later but he opted to play the match despite his concerns for his father’s well-being.
On 15th August 2011, Mikel Obi made an impassioned plea for his father’s safe return. He told Sky Sports News that he has always tried to help his country (Nigeria) and this is the time for his country (Nigeria) to help him by bringing his father home safely.
He further stated that whoever knows where his dad is should please contact him. However, on 22nd August 2011, his father, Michael Obi was found alive in the Nigerian city of Kano. His abductors were reported to be arrested and were in police custody.
In 2016, it was reported that Mikel Obi did not impressed Chelsea at all. He was constantly on a bench due to his poor performance in the club. On 4th November 2016, it was announced that Chelsea would not be renewing Mikel Obi contract when it expired at the end of the season. On 6th January 2017, Mikel Obi was signed to Chinese club Tianjin TEDA on a free transfer.
Apart from football, Mikel Obi has multi-million endorsement deals with Samsung, Pepsi and Soft Drink. He earns $110,000 weekly and $6 million yearly playing football. He is currently one of the highest paid soccer players in Africa.
Mikel Obi is currently one of the richest and most influential footballer in Nigeria with an estimated net worth of $50 million.