Former Super Eagles captain, Mikel Obi, has revealed how he was robbed of the 2013 African Player of the Year award.
Mikel was outstanding for Nigeria during the year under review as he helped the Eagles clinch the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa.
There has been no Nigerian winner of the African Player of the Year award since 1999, when Nwankwo Kanu beat Ghanaian defender Samuel Kuffour to the accolade following his goalscoring performance for Arsenal.
Since then, no Nigerian made a podium finish but in last two decades only Austin Okocha (twice, in 2003 and 2004) and Mikel Obi (in 2013) made it to the final three losing to eventual winners Samuel Eto’o and Yaya Toure.
“I was robbed, mate,” Mikel said in a YouTube interview with Dubai Eye 103.8.
“Before I went, I was told that I won it. I was at the airport flying to Nigeria, because the ceremony was in Nigeria, and guess what happened? Manchester City was playing, and Yaya scored a hat-trick or two goals.”
He also revealed that Sir Alex Ferguson still snubs him after he opted out of a move to join Manchester United in 2005.
Ferguson thought he had won the race for the talented Nigerian midfielder after he signed for United from Lyn Oslo in April 2005, but the move was never finalised after Mikel claimed that he was ‘bullied’ into the deal and wished to join Chelsea instead.
“First time we played in the FA Cup he shunned me walking out of the tunnel. I stumbled and almost fell. Each time we met he blanked me but I have no regrets signing for Chelsea.
“Obviously, I signed a pre-contract with Manchester United, but before that I was playing for Lyn Oslo in Norway. Chelsea actually sent me to Lyn Oslo and nobody knew this.
“Chelsea was looking after me, and my family, giving me bits here and there and they were paying my school fees when I was in Norway.
“I had my trials at Manchester United before I went to Chelsea. Sir Alex Ferguson loved me and all the players loved me. Roy Keane was my biggest fan. He told Ferguson he needed to sign me. He was my protector in training.
“Whenever I got tackles in training from the likes of Paul Scholes and Nikky Butt in training, Keane was ready to get in with them.
“They heard I joined Chelsea and Fergie flew into Norway and handed me a pre-contract to sign and I could not say no. And the whole thing went viral.”