John Mikel Obi (born 22 April 1987), is a Nigerian professional footballer who plays as a defensive midfielder for Chelsea FC of England and the Nigeria national team.
For the 2003 FIFA Under-17 World Championships, to which the talented footballer was invited, the Nigerian Football Association(NFA) mistakenly submitted his name as “Mikel” instead of “Michael”. He decided to keep the new name, saying that it had a “special ring to it.” He would go on to make headlines at the tournament which held in Finland. Following the tournament, he was priced away from Plateau United by Lyn Oslo, a Norwegian football Club.
Born in the city of Jos, Nigeria, and named John Michael Nchekwube Obinna, Mikel started his official football career at the age of 12 when he joined the popular and prestigious Pepsi Football Academy which has produced several star professional footballers including Peter Odemwingie. Due to his stand-out football abilities, Mikel was soon picked to play for Local club Plateau United, famously making a debut for them at the age of 15 years.
He also represented Nigeria at the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championships held in Netherlands. The Nigerian team performed excellently well, with Mikel Obi in the very thick of things. He thrilled and impressed as Nigeria made their way to the finals, where they were eventually beaten by an Argentine u-20 side inspired by Lionel Messi. Mikel won the Silver Ball after being voted as the tournament’s second-best player behind the afore-mentioned Lionel Messi, with fellow Nigerian, Taiye Taiwo, coming third.
On 12 September 2006, Mikel made his first start for Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League,, earning many positive comments for his performance in the game. Since that time till date, he has gone on to play for Chelsea in over 370 games, scoring 7 goals in the process. He has also played for Nigeria’s national team over 60 times, scoring 4 goals. He has won several trophies in