John Obi Mikel
- Squad No: 12
- Position: Midfielder
- Age: 25
- Birth Date: Apr 22, 1987
- Birth Place: Jos, Nigeria
- Height: 5′ 11” (1.80m)
- Weight: 179 lbs (81.3 kg)
- Teams: Chelsea, Nigeria
Michael Essien’s injury absence allowed Mikel more playing time in 2008-09 and he seized the opportunity with a string of fine performances. He finished the season being nominated for the club’s Player and Young Player of the Season awards. He suffered injury problems in 2009-10, but still started 21 Premier League games as Chelsea won the title.
For Nigeria, he was touted as a future superstar after a series of scintillating displays in the 2005 Under-20 World Youth Championships earned him the Silver Ball for second best player in the tournament, behind Lionel Messi. He played for the Super Eagles in the 2006, 2008 and 2010 African Nations Cup, and played seven games of the qualifying campaign for the 2010 World Cup. However, he missed the 2010 World Cup due to injury, saying he had to protect his long-term career rather than risk more serious problems by playing in South Africa.
In the summer of 2011, Mikel had to cope with the kidnapping of his father, but he was still able to enjoy a strong campaign, growing in stature as the campaign wore on and ultimately playing an important role in the Champions League success.
Strengths: Aggressive and fearless in the challenge, Mikel is not just an ankle-biter but has excellent distribution to boot.
Weaknesses: He has shown a lack of discipline at times in his career.
Career High: He was superb as Chelsea claimed glory over Bayern Munich in the 2012 Champions League final.
Career Low: Being sent off in the 2007 League Cup final against Arsenal in an incident that provoked ugly scenes.
Style: A solid defensive midfielder, at his best when deployed in the anchor role in front of the defence.
Quotes: “For the present and for the future he is a very important player for us. I hope that he stays at Chelsea for a lot of years. I would like that he puts in his great quality for the team.” Carlo Ancelotti, July 2009.
Trivia: The scout who first recommended Mikel to Chelsea was Piet de Visser, who is also credited with bringing Brazilian superstars Romario and Ronaldo to Europe.