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I spent my money to save Nigeria’s Olympic team, says Mikel


John Obi Mikel (R) of Nigeria celebrates his goal scored against Denmark during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games men’s quarter-final football match Nigeria vs Denmark, at the Arena Fonte Nova Stadium in Salvador, Brazil on August 13, 2016 NELSON ALMEIDA / AFP

John Obi Mikel (R) of Nigeria celebrates his goal scored against Denmark during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games men’s quarter-final football match Nigeria vs Denmark, at the Arena Fonte Nova Stadium in Salvador, Brazil on August 13, 2016<br />NELSON ALMEIDA / AFP

Chelsea midfielder, John Obi MIkel, who recently returned to London from a successful Rio 2016 campaign, was brutally honest about the extent of the problems he faced at the games.

In an interview with, Mikel slammed the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) after he was forced to put up his own money to help his country achieve their remarkable bronze medal at Rio 2016.

The Nigeria captain organised travel, paid for meals and booked training pitches while trying to physically and tactically prepare for games.

The bronze medal, Mikel explained, was his country’s only moment of glory during the Olympics amid the troubles he had in Brazil.

“I think if we talk about the money that I put into the team I think it was more than [£30,000],” Mikel told Goal. “But we just had to do it.

“I said to myself, ‘I won’t let this happen. If I can help, I’ll try to help’. Sometimes there was no food, sometimes there was no pitch to train on, there was no bus to go to the training ground. So all of this was what me and the coach had to figure out, and get money together.

“I came to the camp. I sat down with the boys in Atlanta and I could see the frustration, the pain and the anger. Their aim was to play in the Olympics, their goal was to play in the Olympics.

“And for me being there and seeing what they are going through, they are young boys, they want to start their career and someone in the ministry is trying to crush that dream.”

Narrating the events leading to the team’s first agme against Japan in Manaus, Mikel said, “(After our last minute flight) we got to the hotel, dropped our bags, grabbed some sandwiches, something to eat. A little bit of food. Then headed straight back to the stadium because we hadn’t even done our accreditations then, so we had to go there and wait in the line, do our accreditation.

“It was absolutely hectic. I don’t know how we managed to go onto the pitch and win that game, it was absolutely mind blowing.”

The Chelsea midfielder appeared relaxed and happy after returning home to join up with Antonio Conte’s squad as they prepare to face Swansea City yesterday.

He was bursting with pride as he reflected on a successful tournament, which culminated with a 3-2 bronze-medal match win over Honduras.

“Sometimes I wear my medal around the house, it gets my missus jealous,” he joked as he showed off his medal. “The kids love playing with the medal. I am sure one day they will know what this really means.

“We had lots of problems outside the pitch, but I always told the boys that you shouldn’t let that affect what we came here to do. We still want to achieve what we came here to do. We still have to represent our country and play for ourselves and our family and the people of Nigeria.

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  • Olukayode Odulaja

    It’s a big shame on the NFF(Nigeria Football Federation) and NIGERIA as a nation. Mikel has shown that he has a very large heart and it shouldn’t be taken for granted. God will continue to reward him and his family immensely. I’m really proud of you.

  • Emmyoz

    After all the sacrifices not even a reception was organized for them, (There was really a country.) Many thanks for helping those boys God will really reword you more than you may know……..

  • Emmyoz

    But in a negative part of your action, This is one of the reasons why Nigeria will never let the Igbos whom they hate so mush go in peace…….

  • pmagroup

    Very sad and not new to our country.

  • Ify Onabu

    The Lord God will bless Mikel even more for spending his money to save Nigeria from shame and embarrassment. God will bless him the more. And for those who have brought Nigeria to her knees, those who have made Nigeria a laughing stock, the wrath of God is upon them.

  • Primo Compatriot

    Which report should I believe: this one where Mikel denied spending his money or the above.

    • syke

      You should believe this report which is coming after the games. It would not have been good for team spirit had he admitted to the world, whilst they were still in camp, that he was spending his money on their behalf.

      • Primo Compatriot

        I get your point but IMHO he should have kept mute in the first instance instead of trying to discredit the press knowing fully well he was going public later with the details

    • Mazi JO

      Actually, the reports conflict. One says #30,000 Pounds and the other said $30,000 Dollars.

    • uche

      Believe whatever u want to. As for me, I say thank you to Mikel and the rest of the players and officials for saving us from an unprecedented embarrassment.

      • Primo Compatriot

        What “unprecedented embarrassment”? more of an exercise in futility. I am not here to pick a fight with anybody but to just point somethings out.
        We are quick to glorify the unnecessary when the unnecessary should not occur in the first place. IMHO such sentiments normally cloud the underlying issues; like why was there no funds for the team (Nobody seems to be talking about that anymore. The games are over who cares).
        To be frank, Mikel bailing out the team might have done more damage to the team dynamics than we will like to admit – Talk about conflict of interest.
        I guess Siasia didn’t have much to say if he is going to be instructing his benefactor.

  • Mazi JO

    Ground shaking! Why bother if that is the treatment by our Sports chiefs. We can abstain from these competitions if we are going to be this loosely organized. These boys could have come back with the ultimate gold had the support been ironclad.