Eagles can excel with or without me — Mikel

John Mikel Obi
| credits: File copy

UFEA Champions League winner Mikel Obi says he is ready to give his best to the national team despite his exclusion from coach Stephen Keshi’s squad for this month’s qualifiers.

Some followers of the Super Eagles feel the team could have performed better with Mikel in the 1-0 win against Namibia in a World Cup qualifier in Calabar on Sunday.

But the Chelsea midfielder, who won UEFA’s top club competition with the Blues last month, said the Eagles would still give their best without him, adding that Keshi was on the right path to success.

“It’s always a proud moment for me anytime I play for my country but sometimes people get me wrong. I love wearing the green and white colours,” Mikel said on Tuesday in Lagos at a press conference to unveil his foundation.

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“I have been in games before where we lost. With or without me, what is set to happen will happen. He (Keshi) is trying to develop new players.

“I missed nine weeks at Chelsea and no one forced me to play. I had such moments with the national team and they (Chelsea) won’t let me come because I am injured. But when I explain, they say I am not patriotic.

“This country made me who I am from U-17 level. I want success with the Eagles and I am happy we won on Sunday against Namibia; I am happy for the players and Keshi for his first competitive win.

“I think he (Keshi) is going to be a wonderful coach for Nigeria. Hopefully he can help the national team win medals. I respect Keshi a lot and he did very well as a player.”

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Mikel had trying times under coach Andre Villas-Boas as Chelsea faltered early on last season but the player along with the team found a new lease of life after the Portuguese was given the boot, winning the FA Cup and the Champions League.

“Losing 3-1 at Napoli was difficult and a change happened and AVB had to go. It happens in football and most times it’s the coaches that are affected.

“We (players) had a meeting that we could do better and the confidence came back to the team. It’s not about AVB. We were written off before we played Barcelona but belief in the team helped us. Now a lot of players can leave the team with their heads held high.”

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Mikel doused speculations that he may be leaving Stamford Bridge saying he would still be with the Blues for a few more years.

“I’ve been in Chelsea now for six years. It is my second home. I think I will still be in Chelsea for a few more years. I wouldn’t want to leave a club that just won the Champions League but you never know with football. So let’s see what happens.”

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