Sunday, 21 February, 5:00 PM
Chelsea vs Manchester City FA cup 5th round match
Mikel Obi leaves the pitch in the 83rd minute and is greeted by a rousing reception from the blues fans ( myself and my 7 year old son included) as he is replaced by Nemanja Matic
It was one of those moments when you were proud to be a Nigerian and the euphoria wasn’t lost on my 7 year old
Still quite obviously thrilled he asked as we left the stadium . . Dad how do teams choose their captains ?
Well . . .i began smiling . . I knew he was a big fan of John Terrys . . it usually either the oldest, the longest serving or best player on the team someone you’re proud to see leading your team out !
So isn’t Mikel any of those things for Nigeria he asked ?
Slightly thrown off balance , I paused and gave it deep thought . . .why not indeed I asked myself ?
At just 28 John Obi Mikel could already be considered a veteran of the game.
With a career spanning over 13 years with about 270 caps for his club Chelsea and about 73 caps for the National team Mikel is currently the most capped Super Eagle !
He has won almost every major trophy in football except the world cup making him Nigeria’s 2nd most decorated player after King Kanu Nwankwo
Mikel like one writer described him is a perfect constant who despite frequent criticism has weathered the storm and persevered to become a mainstay of both club and country and quite surprisingly now also a fan favorite !
What many would want to question is his commitment to the national cause and that if thoroughly examined closely and truthfully will be very difficult to fault !
He is a critical piece of the national team jigsaw puzzle keeping the team together and dictating play from deep within . . .his value well emphasized at the 2013 nations cup and even recent qualifiers !
He has even taken on the responsibility of the captains armband in the past with Chelsea
Why then does the current gaffer overlook this Trojan . . .and instead settle for the less fancied option ?
Is this option the most capped player ? The most Influential Player e.g. Messi Neymar Ronaldo ? The player who’s presence on the team alone motivates other team members e.g Kanu? Is he an on the pitch leader e.g. John Terry ? Is he indispensable to the team or can he easily be substituted ? Is he even the best in his preferred position e.g. Phillip Lahm ? Do the older players in the team respect him ? Do the young ones look up to him e.g Totti ?
So why hasn’t Mikel been made the super eagles captain ?
I wondered myself but let it fade as I didn’t yet have an adequate answer
As we stooped for a snack at one of the nearby cafes . . the highlights of the match replayed on the TV . . . Mikel striding confidently towards the buildup to the 3rd goal . . I sighed and said to myself . . .there lies the true captian of the ship!