Mikel John Obi
John Michael Nchekwube Obinna (commonly known as Mikel John Obi, John Obi Mikel or John Mikel Obi; born 22 April 1987 in Jos, Nigeria) is a Nigerian footballer. He is a centre midfielder who currently plays for Chelsea.
He was born as John Michael Nchekwube Obinna, the son of a former civil servant.
Obi 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 beat all opponents and made it to the final but lost to Argentina by 2–1.
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 until Nigeria reached the final, where they lost 2–1 to Argentina. Obi won the silver ball after being voted the tournament's second best player.
On April 29, 2005, a few days after Mikel turned 18, English Premier League side Manchester United 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.
Rival Premier League side, Chelsea, later issued a counter-claim suggesting that they already had an agreement with Mikel and his agents, but Lyn Oslo denied this claim.
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.
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 has been capped 24 times.