What would have been? Mikel’s early EPL career if chosen otherwise

Idowu Oluwashola
By Idowu Oluwashola
5 Min Read

John Obi Mikel came into the scene at FIFA Under-17 World Championship tournament which took place in Finland in 2003. His potential was spotted and tapped by Lyn Oslo in Norway.

During the FIFA Under-17 World Championship tournament in 2003, Mikel showcased his quality of passes with precision in both long and short passes, combined with great vision. Standing at 6ft 2inches tall, he was able to use his physical ability to shield himself like a rock, making it difficult for his opponent to dispossess him while on the ball.

He might have his weakness when it comes to quick speed but that never hindered him, you know why? because of his ability to read the game intelligently and place himself at the right place at the right time. No wonder he was signed by the Norwegian club in Oslo.

Two years after, in 2005, he represented Nigeria at the World Youth Championship tournament that was held in Netherland. Here comes the major announcement of his footballing masterclass and intelligence to world.

The tournament seemed so suited for him and he never put a foot wrong throughout the tournament. The hype around him before the tournament was matched by his all round performances till the final match against Argentina.


Mikel had the world at his feet. Unlocking several defenses with precise passes. Giving the attackers and wingers more reasons to make runs in and around the opposition box.

He was cool, calm and collected. Indeed, Mikel needed no further introduction after the tournament. No wonder he became the reason for a tug of war between two English Premier League clubs, looking to get his signature at all cost.

He was caught up in the drama between Manchester United and Chelsea. Which led to him been absent from football for almost a year after the U20 Youth Championship tournament.

These drama was eventually settled with Chelsea been the lucky winner of his signature. Was that the right decision? – Depending from the angle we look at it. In terms of winning major footballing trophies, he made a right choice, but it came at what price?

His natural position as an attacking midfielder was truncated very early at the start of his Chelsea career. He was deployed as an holding midfielder by Jose Mourinho to fill the void left by Makelele who made a transfer to Paris saint-Germain.


Soon enough, Mikel became comfortable with his new position as a defensive midfielder but to the detriment of his attacking instinct which brought him into limelight.

Many were hopeful of seeing the new generational talent, with leg breaking and defense splitting passes, but really, that never seems to happen except in few games when the opportunity arises.

Was the sacrifice worth it? What would he have become, if he had signed for the Red Devil (Manchester United)?


In his natural position, Mikel would have had to fight for the attacking midfield position with Paul Scholes who doesn’t look untouchable even though he’s highly regarded at the club. No one would have doubted Mikel’s ability to give Paul Scholes one or two reasons to either step back or make an early retirement plan.

Mikel’s attacking potential was so superb, that a top and highly recognised coach like Alex Ferguson had to fight tooth and nail to get his signature but unfortunately that never happened.

Probably Mikel would have had a better individual career if he had stocked with his natural position rather than been drilled into an unfamiliar position.

For many years, representing his country “Nigeria”, he was still been deployed in his natural attacking midfield position until the tale end of his international career.


Would he have won some individual awards if he had continued in his natural position just like the Silver ball award he won during the World Youth Championship tournament in Netherland?

Was Mikel a wasted talent? Looking at the trophies he had won with Chelsea, who would have cared whether he had a change of position or not?

Would he have been more happier if he had continued his development in his natural attacking midfield position? Has his happiness been traded for club trophies?

A talent wasted or an inner ability unlocked???


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