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Three times Mikel Obi impressed Nigerians

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Nigeria captain John Obi Mikel. Photo: GETTYIMAGE

Nigeria’s Mikel Obi announced his retirement from international football after the Super Eagles finished third in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.

The midfielder played 89 times for Nigeria scored six goals and provided 12 assists. Here are five times the former captain left an impression on Nigerians.

2013 Confederations cup goal
Elderson Echiejile got the ball at the centre of midfield after an Uruguay clearance, the left-back threaded an impressive pass between the lines into Brown Ideye. Ideye, with his back to goal, controls it with his first touch, his second touch on the turn was a pass to Mikel who was just ahead, moving into the box.

The pass was a little heavy and Mikel needed two touches to get it under proper control, the experienced Diego Lugano was already in prime position to make a tackle. Mikel produces a hybrid of a chop and drags to dribble past the center back, he is one-on-one against goalkeeper Fernando Muslera and he hits the can, high into the net with his left foot. Goal!

Rio 2016
This version of the selfless and mature Mikel probably endeared him to Nigerians the most. The midfielder led the Olympic team both on and off the field. The team finished third to huge celebrations but the bronze was won on the back of Mikel’s sacrifice. He paid over £30,000 to organize the team’s travel, pay for meals and to book training pitches when they were stuck in Atlanta.

2018 World Cup
Hours before the Super Eagles played the final group stage game against Argentina, Mikel was informed of his father’s kidnap as he traveled with the team to the stadium. He spoke with the kidnappers on the phone and was told he had to pay a ransom.

Nigeria had a crucial match that decided their qualification to the next round. Mikel chose not to burden any other person with the news. Not his teammates, not the coaches, not the Nigeria Football Federation. He chose to play the match, leading his team out and serving his country.


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