John Mikel Obi has opened up on events that led to him leaving Chelsea Football Club after a trophy-laden 11-year stint in 2017.
The former Super Eagles captain had suddenly found himself shut out of the Chelsea first team after new Italian coach, Antonio Conte (who arrived after the sacking of Jose Mourinho) decided he would no longer be a part of his team.
Trouble began for the former Lyn Oslo midfielder when he declared his interest in representing Nigeria at the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Having missed out of the Beijing 2008 event in which Nigeria came away with the silver in football, Mikel was desperate not to miss out of Rio and decided to seek permission from the Chelsea hierarchy.
His wishes were respected by the team’s management but Antonio Conte refused, saying he needed to be in the team for pre-season which was going to coincide with the Olympics Games.
But when Mikel insisted he would be in the tournament, Conte told him he would not be guaranteed a place in his team when he returned from the Games.
Well, Conte kept his word by completely shutting the Nigerian out of his team until Chinese Super League club, Tianji Teda came calling.
But just when Mikel had made up his mind to leave for the far East, Conte appeared to have a change of mind and decided to call for a peace meeting in his office in January 2017.
That’s when Mikel who had been training alone since returning with a bronze medal from the Olympics decided to take his own pound of flesh.
Mikel narrates his encounter with the eccentric Conte in a recent interview with The Athletic how he got his revenge.
” This guy (Conte) who just walked in the door for five minutes is telling me I had to choose. He was saying, ‘ If you do that, you won’t be a part of this team,” Mikel recalls in the interview recently published in British paper, Daily Mirror.
“I spoke to the club and told them that I wanted to go. The club respected me because of what I done for them and how long I’d been there.
“So, off I went and I felt punished for that. I came back and I don’t make the squad. I was never on the squad list on match days again.
“The funny thing is, just before the January window was going to start, he came up to me and said , ‘I want a meeting with you.’
“This was after making me train alone on my own for months, treating a player who had been at Chelsea for a long time like this!
” When he tried to meet with me he was like ‘let’s try and make up , I’ll need you in the team, let’s squash this ‘blah, blah, blah!’
“I was like, ‘Are you joking? Are you f serious? He knew I wanted out. I stood up and walked out of the room. You can’t disrespect a human being like that,” he added.
Mikel has since moved on, playing in China and Belgium before returning to England to play for Championship side, Stoke City.