Mikel Obi Biography: Inside The Life Of The Former Nigerian Player

Former retired Nigerian football player John Michael Nchekwube Obinna, better known by his stage name Mikel John Obi, was born on April 22, 1987. He is frequently regarded as one of Nigerian football’s most decorated players. Mikel began his professional career with the local team Plateau United before transferring to the Norwegian club Lyon in 2004 at the age of 17.

Following rumored Manchester United claims that he had already been signed, he controversially transferred to Chelsea in England in 2006. He played for Chelsea for 11 years until leaving in 2017 to join Tianjin TEDA in China. Before coming back to England on a short-term agreement with Middlesbrough, he spent two years in China. He made a free transfer to Trabzonspor in July 2019. Following his return to England in August 2020, Mikel joined Stoke City once more. He then moved on to Kuwait SC before declaring his retirement on September 27, 2022. Over the course of a 14-year international career, between 2005 and 2019, he appeared 91 times for Nigeria and scored six goals.

Early Life and Education

Mikel was born on April 22, 1987, in Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria, to Pa. Michael Obi and Mrs. Irosu Obi, a former government servant who now owns an interstate transportation business in Jos. He is a native of the eastern Nigerian region, Enugu State.

He had his primary and secondary education in Jos, Plateau State, though it is uncertain which institutions he attended.


After being chosen as a bright player to play for the Pepsi Football Academy by more than 3,000 young athletes, Mikel started his professional football career at the age of 12. This group was highly known at the time for touring all of Nigeria in search of young footballers with the ability to play professionally.

Obi was chosen to play for Plateau United, a premier league team that had previously produced stars like Celestine Babayaro, Victor Obinna, and Chris Obodo who later achieved success in European leagues, after scouts took notice of him. He rose to fame after playing under the name John Obi Mikel for Nigeria at the FIFA Under-17 World Championships in Finland. He next attended a tryout at Ajax Cape Town in South Africa, and following the event, he signed with Lyn Football in Oslo, Norway.

It was made public a few days after Obi turned 18 that he had signed a contract with Manchester United, an English Premier League club. However, the signing was met with controversy when Chelsea FC, another English team, claimed to have also signed the youngster. However, Chelsea FC ultimately won the dispute, and for the 2006–2007 campaign, they recruited Obi from Lyn Football Oslo.

Obi made his Chelsea debut in a UEFA Champions League matchup against the Bulgarian team Levski Sofia in September 2006. John Obi Mikel played for Chelsea FC for ten years, from 2006 to 2016, making 374 appearances in all competitions and scoring six goals.

The following day, John Obi Mikel joined the Chinese team Tianjin TEDA after leaving the English club on a free transfer after Chelsea declined to extend his contract. Over the previous 13 years, Obi has nearly always represented Nigeria in events. He earned a bronze medal in 2016 with the Nigeria Dream team at the Olympics in Rio. He captained the team and showed his leadership qualities by navigating it through criticism and a lack of financial backing from the country. Mikel John Obi, the captain of the Nigerian Super Eagles, successfully led his team to qualification for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

Before announcing his retirement, he also spent a brief time with Middlesbrough, Trabzonspor, Stoke City, and Kuwait SC.

International Career

With Nigeria’s under-20 team finishing second to Argentina in the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship, Mikel received the Silver Ball as the competition’s second-best player (after Lionel Messi).


He made his senior team debut for Nigeria on August 17, 2005, when he came on in the second half of a 1-0 friendly victory over Libya. He didn’t play for the national team again prior to being chosen for the 2006 Africa Cup of Nations team. When Nigeria faced Ghana in the opening match of the group stage, Mikel sat out the contest. Nevertheless, he came on in the first few minutes of the second half of the match against Zimbabwe.

In 2016, Nigeria selected him for their 35-member preliminary Olympic team, and he was later appointed as the team’s captain. On August 13, 2016, Mikel scored his first-ever Olympic goal in a 2-0 victory over Denmark to assist his side advance to the semifinals. Nigeria played Honduras for the bronze medal after losing to Germany by a score of 2-0. On August 20, Mikel helped Nigeria defeat Honduras 3-2 to earn the bronze medal. Nigeria became the first country to ever win all three medals when the 1996 team won the gold and the 2008 squad won the silver at the Olympics.

In Chelsea’s 3-1 victory over Algeria in a 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification, Mikel both assisted Victor Moses and scored a goal. In July 2019, Mikel announced that the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations would be his final match for Nigeria. After the contest, in which Nigeria came in third, he made his retirement announcement.

Personal Life

Mikel Obi is currently dating Russian beauty Olga Diyachenko, and the two of them have lovely twin daughters named Ava and Mia. It is uncertain whether the couple’s marriage has been formally recognized.

Mikel Obi has been named the youth ambassador to the president of Nigeria by Sunday Dare, minister of youth sports development.

Name Change

Michael rather than Mikkel was the name that the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) submitted for the 2003 FIFA U-17 World Championship, which was hosted in Finland. He decided to maintain the name since it had a “special ring to it.” Most people called him “John Obi Mikel” when he initially joined Chelsea, but on July 31, 2006, he said he preferred the name Mikel John Obi, and he made the change official in 2016.

Kidnapping Saga

On August 12, 2011, Mikel Obi’s father, Michael Obi, is thought to have been abducted in Nigeria. Mikel was notified before Chelsea’s match against Stoke City two days later, but despite his concerns for his father’s safety, he chose to play. Mikel ardently begged for his father’s safe return on August 15, 2011. In a statement to Sky Sports News, he added, “I’ve always tried to serve the country, and now is the time for the country to help me. Please get in touch with me.” Michael Obi was found alive in the Nigerian city of Kano on August 22, 2011. According to reports, authorities had his kidnappers in custody.

On June 26, 2018, a few hours before a FIFA World Cup game, Mikel was informed about a second kidnapping of Michael Obi; nevertheless, he kept this knowledge from the rest of his team. After a shootout on July 2, the Enugu State Police asserted that they had managed to save Michael Obi.



  • Premier League: 2009–10, 2014–15
  • FA Cup: 2006–07, 2008–09, 2011–12
  • Football League Cup: 2006–07
  • FA Community Shield: 2009
  • UEFA Champions League: 2011–12
  • UEFA Europa League: 2012–13


  • Turkish Cup: 2019–20


  • Africa Cup of Nations: 2013; third place: 2006, 2010, 2019

Nigeria Olympic

  • Summer Olympics bronze medalist: 2016


  • 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship Silver Ball
  • CAF Most Promising Talent of the Year: 2005
  • Chelsea Young Player of the Year: 2007, 2008
  • CAF Team of the Year: 2005, 2013.
  • Africa Cup of Nations Team of the Tournament: 2013
  • African Footballer of the Year runner-up: 2013

Net Worth

He has an estimated net worth of $10 million.


Written by PH

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