Mikel Obi retires from professional football

    John Mikel Obi, former Super Eagles captain, has announced his retirement from professional football at the age of 35.

    The 2013 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) winner said he will be ending his football career spanning over 20 years in a post on his Instagram page on Tuesday.

    “There is a saying that ‘all good things must come to an end,’ and for my professional football career, that day is today,” he wrote.

    “I look back at the past 20 years of my career, and I must say that I am very satisfied with all that I was able to achieve and more importantly the human it has helped shape.

    “All of this would not have been possible without the unwavering support of my family, managers, clubs, coaches, teammates and most importantly my ever-loyal fans.

    “You supported me through my highs and lows, even on days that I did not live up to your expectations. I say a big thank you.

    “I will also like to encourage everyone who I may have inspired one way or the other in the course of my career to never give up on their dreams, for every time you think about quitting, remind yourself why you started.

    “This is not goodbye, it’s the start of another journey, another chapter of my life. I look forward to what the future holds and I hope you will walk with me. Thank you.”

    Mikel broke into the limelight after a sensational outing at the 2005 U-20 World Cup where he finished as the second-best player in the competition behind Lionel Messi.

    His performance at the tourney set off a bidding war between Manchester United and Chelsea FC in the quest to sign the then teenage midfielder.

    He eventually headed to Stamford Bridge where he won one UEFA Champions League trophy, two English Premier League titles (EPL), three FA Cups and one UEFA Europa League.

    He left Chelsea in 2016 for China’s Tianjin Teda the following year. He returned to Europe in 2019 and joined Middleborough FC and then a spate of other teams.

    Mikel made his Super Eagles debut at the 2006 AFCON in Egypt.

    He scored his AFCON debut goal against Zimbabwe, and Nigeria’s second in the tournament in the final group D game.

    The former Chelsea midfielder was part of the Super Eagles team that won the nation their third AFCON trophy in South Africa in 2013 under the late Stephen Keshi.

    In 2016, Mikel captained the U-23 team to win bronze at the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.

    During his 13-year reign with the country’s national team, Mikel scored six goals in all competitions.

    He earned 88 caps playing for Nigeria before retiring from his international career in 2019.