The incredible story of John Mikel Obi you’ve never heard before

Ben Mountain

John Obi Mikel. John Mikel Obi. Mikel John Obi. John Michael Nchekwube Obinna. You’d have thought that the most extraordinary thing about this fella is his combination of names. You’d be wrong…

Despite having 249 Chelsea and 78 caps for Nigeria, John Obi Mikel (the version we’re sticking to), is not a name you often hear. But not only because commentators can’t be arsed with it. He’s just not a very well known bloke. In fact, did you know that he still even played for Chelsea, until he officially left on 6th January?

Anyway, despite not living up to his lively, Star Wars-themed name, Obi Mikel does has one astonishing anecdote for the Tianjin TEDA changing room. It’s similar to a Hollywood movie plot; lies, deceit, corruption and a cracking looking co-star…so grab the popcorn and settle down.


Okay, before you get too excited, the ‘said’ cracking looking co-star is Sir Alex Ferguson. Hardly Jennifer Aniston, we know; but do stick with us a moment.

It all started way back in April 2005, when a fresh-faced 18-year-old Mikel supposedly signed a deal to play for English giants, Manchester United.  The deal was worth £4million and would see the starlet move to Old Trafford in January 2006. Pretty standard. The transfer only began to smell fishy when it was revealed that United had bypassed Mikel’s agents in order to sign him and had completed the deal directly with the teenager. Reportedly throwing a copy of FIFA ’06 and a ten deck into the bargain, as most desperate carers of teens do.

Lyn, the Norwegian club who Mikel was signed to at the time, allegedly faxed (bloody dinosaurs) Mikel’s agents to inform them that their services were not desired by Mikel anymore.

“Alex Ferguson said to me that Mikel would be the new Roy Keane and he was offered a contract that was even better than the one they gave Cristiano Ronaldo when he came to the club.”

Morgan Andersen, former Lyn director

Now this is where it gets all a little murky. It later transpired that dirty deeds were in fact being committed behind the scenes in this whole dramatic saga.

Chelsea filed a counter-claim once United had held a swiftly arranged press conference to show off their latest star. It stated that the club had shown previous interest in Mikel, which culminated in their agreement to get him over to Europe in the first place with the intention of signing him at a later date. Lyn, naturally, strongly denied this.

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Back in Norway, claims of threatening phone calls to Mikel began to emerge and concern was fueled when the then United 21 went missing whilst watching a Norwegian Cup game. Morgan Andersen, Lyn’s answer to Ernst Blofeld, claimed he had been “kidnapped”, no doubt in his mind by gun-wielding ninjas from an underground spy cave made of lasers and titanium and had great big wolf-men protecting it. Unfortunately, Mikel had actually just met up with his agent and flown to London.

One of the phone calls went as follows:

“The moon shines bright over the Pacific tonight…

No? Hello? Ah, bollocks, whatever. Listen, mate, we’re watching your every move. We have teams of snipers trained on you right now, with a trigger happy finger poised and ready to slip at our command. They won’t find you. Just a sad little note for your loved ones and a missing name in the ether of time. John, if I may call you John, if you run: we will find you, and we will kill you. Sign for the blues, son. Don’t make myself and Don Tony regret this.”

Anyway, kidnapping, gun-wielding, murdering and generally scary events seemingly over, Mikel and his team of lawyers began to find the Nigerian his actual club.

Speaking to Sky Sports almost 10 days later, Mikel revealed that he had been pressured into signing for United and had wanted to play for Chelsea all along. Ah, the good guys and bad guys have finally become clear.

Wait, not yet, we’re afraid. Yes, another twist in the Mikel plot. Recently, in court, Morgan Andersen claimed that when meeting Mikel’s agents:

“It was like meeting the Sopranos. In the meeting they behaved in a threatening way. We claimed that we had the rights to Mikel, but Shittu [Mikel’s agent] said we would regret the deal.
We told them that we had the right to Mikel, but Chelsea’s representatives didn’t agree. Soon after, John Shittu took him to the airport in Oslo. They went to London. Mikel was crying and we didn’t see him for a long time after that.”

So, who did Mikel really want to play for? United, his original shirt-wearing dream that was coldly snatched away by the London super villains at Stamford Bridge? Or Chelsea, the virtuous protagonists in our ever-twisting plot who came to save a young, vulnerable man from capture? We’re not sure, but surely Jose Mourinho suits the bill for an evil mastermind the most. Eva Carneiro would no doubt support this.

The conclusion to this nail-biting plot is possibly the most bizarre part. Chelsea eventually signed Mikel for £16 million (four times the initial amount). Amazingly, £12million of this went to United in compensation (for sweet fuck all actually, we’re told) and £4million to Lyn. Now, however, that cheeky Andersen chappy, has been done for fraud and making false accusations.

Right, that’s that then. Still confused? So are we. Anyway, who would have thought it? The former “new Roy Keane” that is John Obi Mikel has now begun his dissent into the realm currently inhibited by the likes of Craig Bellamy, Andre Arshavin and Florent Malouda. So, at the next pub quiz you’re at, remember John; he’ll be there.

And as for killing five minutes down the pub pre-match, thank us for that one. Let’s hope for Mikel’s sake the credits have finally rolled to conclude his astonishing story. Who can be bothered with John Obi: The Sequel anyway?

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