John Mikel Obi admits furore over joining Chelsea from Man United ‘wasn’t a great moment’ after false ‘kidnapped’ claims prior to move – but insists swapping clubs ‘was the ‘best decision I have ever made in my life’
John Mikel Obi has lifted the lid on his tug-of-war transfer from Manchester United to Chelsea and the false claims emanating from Norway that he had been kidnapped in the midst of it all.
Obi was at the heart of a ferocious dispute between two of English football’s giants in 2005 when they fought for his signature from Norwegian club Lyn Oslo.
After initially signing for United prior to the 2004-05 season ending, the Nigerian refused to report for training Lyn Oslo – instead flying to London to try and force a move to Chelsea.
John Mikel Obi says joining Chelsea initially ‘wasn’t a great moment’ after false ‘kidnapped’ claims prior to his move from Norwegian reports
Obi was at the heart of transfer saga from Chelsea and Manchester United while at Lyn Oslo
Obi claimed at the time that he was pressured into signing for United – where he was even pictured in the shirt at a press conference – and Chelsea still believe they will land him.
Fast-forward to just over 12 months and the Nigerian got his wish after Chelsea, Lyn Olso and United agreed a deal that saw him join the Blues.
Before he officially joined the west London outfit though, there were incorrect reports he had been kidnapped during the height of the issues – with erroneous stories all over Norwegian TV.
And reflecting on that protracted saga, Obi admits it wasn’t a great time for him.
‘I acted as a young kid and as soon as Chelsea heard the news, they came and got me out of Norway,’ he told BBC Sport Africa.
‘That’s when people started saying that I was kidnapped. It wasn’t a great moment for me then. I just wanted to play football because I was so young.’
In April 2005, the Nigerian was pictured in a United shirt as a press conference was conducted
And the decision to join Chelsea instead of United didn’t prove a rueful one for Obi who became one of the club’s most decorated players. During his 11-year stint he won the Champions League, Europa League, two Premier Leagues, two League Cups and four FA Cups.
‘I don’t regret any decision I made because I enjoyed everything I achieved at Chelsea – it’s the best decision I have ever made in my life,’ he continued.
‘I signed a pre-contract for Manchester United when I was 17. If you are a kid and you see Sir Alex Ferguson right in front of you with the contract, of course you will be tempted.’
Mikel left Chelsea in 2017 and went on to play in China, Turkey and Kuwait as well as stints at Middlesbrough and Stoke.
In September he announced his retirement from professional football at the age of 35.
During 11 years at Chelsea, he won multiple trophies – including the 2012 Champions League