Nigerian star Mikel Obi has retired from professional football after a sparkling career spanning twenty years.
“There is a saying that ‘all good things must come to an end’, and for my professional football career, that day is today,” the 35-year-old former Chelsea man said on Tuesday.
“I look back at the past 20 years of my career, and I must say that I am very satisfied with all that I was able to achieve and more importantly the human it has helped shape.”
For the former Super Eagles skipper, his career won’t have come this far without support from coaches, family members, fans, and teammates, among others.
“You supported me through my highs and lows, even on days that I did not live up to your expectations,” Mikel added. “I say a big thank you.”
As for those who may have been inspired by his footballing exploits, the former Lyn Oslo star urged them “to never give up on their dreams; for every time you think about quitting, remind yourself why you started.
“This is not goodbye, it’s the start of another journey, another chapter of my life. I look forward to what the future holds and I hope you will walk with me. Thank you.”
He last played for Al Kuwait SC but his contract was terminated by the club in November 2021 for undisclosed reasons. He had one year left on his contract.
The Nigerian broke into stardom following a sterling performance for the West Africans at the 2005 World Youth Championship where the country lost to a Lionel Messi-inspired Argentine team. The Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) star clinched the tournament’s Golden Ball while Mikel won the silver boot.
Around that time, Mikel was the subject of a three-way transfer saga involving Manchester United, Chelsea, and Norwegian side Lyn Oslo. He eventually signed for the London club where he won several laurels including two league titles, three FA Cups, one Champions League, a League Cup, Community Shield, and a Europa League trophy.
He was also a one-time winner of the Turkish Cup and on the international scene scored six times.
Apart from winning the 2013 AFCON, Mikel had 91 caps for Nigeria and won a bronze medal for the country at the 2016 Olympics. In the 2006, 2010, and 2019 editions of the AFCON, Mikel also helped Nigeria claim bronze. He also played at the 2014 and 2018 World Cup, captaining the team in the latter.
In the wake of his retirement, tributes have continued to pour in for the former midfielder. The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Super Eagles, and Chelsea were among the first set of persons to wish him well.