John Obi Mikel a Nigerian footballer, English Club Chelsea and the Nigeria National Team.

Mikel John Obi (born April 22, 1987) is a Nigerian footballer. He is a attacking midfielder who currently plays for Chelsea.

He was born John Michael Nchekube Obinna, the son of a former civil servant. Mikel was playing top-flight football for Plateau United aged 15 and, by 2003, was gaining headlines for his country at the FIFA Under-17 World Championships held in Finland. After a brief spell in South Africa with Ajax Cape Town, Mikel gained global recognition in 2005 by starring at the FIFA World Youth Championship where Nigeria were beaten 2-1 in the final by Argentina.

During the 2003 FIFA Under-17 World Championships, commentators continually misspelled his middle name of "Michael" as "Mikel." He decided to keep the new name, saying that it had a special ring to it.

Controversy regarding transfer to England
On April 29, 2005, a few days after Mikel turned 18, English Premier League side Manchester United F.C. announced that it had struck a deal with Lyn Oslo to sign the player. United's website also claimed that they had done a deal directly with the teenager and that he had signed a contract to join them. Mikel's agents were bypassed as the club persuaded the youngster to sign a 4 year contract without representation. Lyn Oslo allegedly sent a fax to his agents abroad, claiming their services were no longer required by Mikel. Reports said the deal was initially worth £4m,[3] and would see the player arrive at Old Trafford in January 2006. Rival Premier League side, Chelsea F.C., later issued a counter-claim suggesting that they already had an agreement with Mikel and his agents, but Lyn Oslo denied this claim. However, subsequent reports indicated that Chelsea claimed to have been involved in arranging the player's original move to Europe with a view to signing him at a later date.

Mikel expressed his delight at joining United in a hastily arranged press conference, where he was pictured holding up a Manchester United shirt, which bore the squad number 21. Following his signing of the contract to join Manchester United, there were claims from Norway that he had received a number of threatening phone calls from unknown sources. Mikel was assigned a security guard and moved to a safe hotel. However, on May 11, 2005, the midfielder went missing during a Norwegian Cup game against Klemetsrud; he had not been selected for the match but had been watching from the stands. Whilst the player was believed to have left with one of his agents, John Shittu, who had by now flown in to meet Mikel, his disappearance sparked massive media coverage in Norway and also provoked a police enquiry after the Lyn Oslo director Morgan Andersen made claims in the Norwegian media that Mikel had been 'kidnapped'. These claims were later repeated by Manchester United's assistant manager Carlos Queiroz, who accused Chelsea of being involved in the alleged 'kidnapping'.

It subsequently emerged that Mikel had travelled to London with his agent John Shittu. Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson considered travelling to Oslo to visit Mikel, but decided against this after Mikel was reported to have left the country. Staying in a London hotel, and some nine days after disappearing, Mikel stated on Sky Sports News that he had been pressurised into signing the contract with United, claims furiously rebuffed by both Manchester United and Lyn Oslo. Mikel also claimed that he had asked the clubs for a week to think about it, but that this request was refused and the clubs pressured him into signing without his advisors being present. Mikel's claims, if true, would mean that Manchester United had acted in breach of FIFA and FA rules. Mikel told the British media that Chelsea were the club he genuinely wanted to sign for. In response to these events, United made an official complaint to FIFA about the behaviour of both Chelsea and the player's agents, John Shittu and Rune Hauge, already infamous for his role in the George Graham bungs scandal. FIFA replied to this complaint in August 2005 stating there was insufficient evidence to bring a case against Chelsea FC.

In the summer of 2005, Mikel played for Nigeria at the FIFA U-20 World Youth Championships held in the Netherlands. He had an excellent tournament as Nigeria reached the final, where they were unlucky to lose 2-1 to Argentina. Mikel won the silver ball after being voted the tournament's second best player.

Following the tournament, Mikel failed to return to Lyn Oslo, and the club lodged a complaint with FIFA. On August 12, 2005, FIFA ruled that Mikel should return to Lyn Oslo to see out his contract with the Norwegian club, whilst they would decide at a later date whether the contract he signed with United should be upheld or cancelled. After a delay of over a month, Mikel complied with the FIFA decision and returned to Lyn Oslo in early September 2005 after a three month absence.

Transfer to Chelsea resolved
Rather than leaving FIFA to determine the validity of the contract signed with Manchester United, Chelsea FC intervened by volunteering to settle the transfer saga through negotiation with Lyn Oslo and Manchester United.

On June 2 2006, Chelsea, Manchester United and Lyn Oslo reached a settlement to resolve the future of the player. Mikel's registration was to be transferred from Lyn to Chelsea; Manchester United agreed to terminate their option agreement with Mikel. Under the terms of this agreement Chelsea agreed to pay Manchester United £12million, half paid upon the finalisation of the contract and the other half in June 2007, and Lyn £4million, half payable immediately, and half payable in June 2007. As a result of this settlement, all claims in this matter were withdrawn. On July 19 2006 Chelsea were granted a work permit for the midfielder after they completed the £16million signing in June 2006. On July 31 2006 he stated that he prefers to be called Mikel John Obi instead of John Obi Mikel, as he had most commonly been called.

International career
Mikel made his debut for Nigeria's senior team on August 17 2005, when he came on as a second-half substitute in a 1-0 friendly win over Libya. He did not play for the national team again prior to being named in the squad for the 2006 African Cup of Nations. In Nigeria's first group game, which was against Ghana, Mikel was an unused substitute. However, he was introduced into the second game, against Zimbabwe, early in the second half. Within ten minutes of coming on, he had supplied both the corner that resulted in Christian Obodo heading the game's opening goal, and scored Nigeria's second goal. He made his first international start in Nigeria's final group game, a 2-1 victory over Senegal. As of February 7 2007, Mikel has earned five international caps and scored one international goal. During the cup, Mikel said that he had been instructed not to make any public comments about his club career.[14] FIFA is to investigate claims that Mikel had received death threats.

2006 - 2007 season

On September 12, 2006, Mikel made his first start for Chelsea in the Uefa Champions League against Levski Sofia and took a powerful shot which the goalkeeper failed to save and Didier Drogba pounced on the rebound. Mikel received many positive comments for his performance in the match. However, since being sent off in a match against Reading on October 14, 2006, Mikel was fined on three separate occasions by Chelsea for turning up late to training. At the time Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho was also believed to have strong reservations about his lifestyle outside of Stamford Bridge and the club were reportedly considering offloading the player. Mikel was dropped for over a month, during which his father Michael voiced his concerns over his son's behaviour. After improved punctuality and showings at training sessions, Mikel earned a recall for Chelsea's Champions League group away game against Werder Bremen on the November 23, 2006. Mikel scored his first goal for Chelsea in their 6-1 FA Cup victory over Macclesfield Town on January 6, 2007. He also scored against Nottingham Forest in the following round of the competition. During Chelsea's triumph in the League Cup in 2007, Mikel was sent off in injury time after clashing with Kolo Toure, the incident was followed by a huge fracas, in which Emmanuel Adebayor of Arsenal was sent off, Francesc Fabregas and Frank Lampard were booked and Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger were involved in a kerfuffle on the pitch.