John Obi Mikel talkSPORT interview: Chelsea verdict, Manchester United transfer chaos, father’s kidnapping and more

John Obi Mikel talkSPORT interview: Chelsea verdict, Manchester United transfer chaos, father’s kidnapping and more

Nov 10, 2023

John Obi Mikel joined talkSPORT and it was a must listen interview.

The Chelsea legend was in the studio with Jim White, Simon Jordan and Danny Murphy and had them gripped with stories about his playing days and much more.

Mikel's interview on talkSPORT was box office


Mikel’s interview on talkSPORT was box office

You can listen to the interview above where he talks about nearly joining Manchester United, behind the scenes stories on Chelsea during the Roman Abramovich era, his view on the Blues now and a heartbreaking story on his father’s kidnapping.

Here’s a breakdown on some of those things he talked about:

Manchester United transfer saga

Mikel was at the centre of a bizarre saga in 2005 when he had just turned 18 where both Manchester United and Chelsea claimed to have signed him.

He was at Norwegian side Lyn at the time and United had announced they had struck a £4million deal and that he had signed a contract.

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Mikel even had a press conference in a Man United shirt, but then Chelsea said they already had an agreement in place.

“Sir Alex [Ferguson] thought he got me, yeah,” he told talkSPORT.

“I did the press conference and it was everywhere. Then obviously Roman [Abramovich], everybody at Chelsea saw it and they were like, ‘What’s going on here? We’ve been looking at this player for two or three years now, what’s happening here?’

Ferguson was fuming after failing to land Mikel


Ferguson was fuming after failing to land Mikel
Mikel won 11 trophies during his career at Chelsea


Mikel won 11 trophies during his career at ChelseaCredit: Getty

“Obviously they sent my agent down to Lyn and then he came down to Norway, and then for a couple of hours I went missing. He took me out from my apartment where I used to live with a couple of my friends.

“He was like, ‘We need to go back to London, I need to get you out of Norway right now because what you’ve done right now, it’s so much of a problem with Chelsea and Roman is not happy.’ So my agent took my to a hotel and then the next morning we flew down to London, and the rest was history.

Roman Abramovich’s reign

Mikel played a starring role in one of the most successful periods of the club’s history.

In his 11 years at Stamford Bridge he won two Premier League titles, the Champions League, a Europa League, four FA Cups and two League Cups.

The Nigeria icon saw first hand the ruthlessness that owner Abramovich showed when it came to managers.

Abramovich was forced to sell Chelsea in 2022 after 19 years in charge


Abramovich was forced to sell Chelsea in 2022 after 19 years in chargeCredit: Getty

He said: “Amazing owner and football man as well. A lot of people thought he was going to be this owner who just threw money at the club and wasn’t involved in the day-to-day activities. 

He wasn’t at the club every day, but boy, he knew what was going on every day.

Every game he was always coming into the dressing room. Whether we win or lost he was always there. 

He would just say ‘sorry I know you guys did your best, but next time we have to win’. 

“He always wanted to win games. For him, it was about winning games.

“The only thing with him is that when you saw the helicopters flying around the training ground, you know that the manager is going to be sacked.”

Rafa Benitez departure

It was not only Abramovich who was ruthless towards managers, but it was the players too.

The big names at Chelsea at the time famously ran the show – if you didn’t get on with the players then you’d be out the door.

One such instance was when Benitez left the club, with John Terry leading the decision.

Mikel lifted the lid on Benitez's time at the club


Mikel lifted the lid on Benitez’s time at the clubCredit: Getty

Mikel said: “I think there was something about Rafa and the fans that the fans didn’t take to him. Same as the players, we didn’t accept him as one of us.”

Terry had been dropped from the team and that led to the Chelsea legend forcing Benitez’s exit.

He added: “JT got together by himself and decided yeah, your time is gone!”

Dad’s kidnapping

One of the more troubling episodes of his life that Mikel talked about was the time his father was kidnapped in 2018.

It was the second time his father was held captive, this time happening just hours before he played in the World Cup against Argentina.

He said: “Two hours before the game I got a phone call from my brother saying that my dad has been kidnapped for the second time in Nigeria. 

Chelsea legend Mikel opened up on his father's kidnapping


Chelsea legend Mikel opened up on his father’s kidnappingCredit: talkSPORT

“That was absolutely shocking. The first time was shocking, but the second time was even more shocking because I was about to go into one of the biggest games of my life. 

“Just knowing that my dad has been kidnapped again was absolutely heartbreaking. 

“I couldn’t leave the room. I couldn’t tell anybody. I was alone in the room for about 30 minutes, thinking what am I going to do? Shall I tell the manager? Shall I tell my teammates? Or should I make an announcement? 

“But we’re about to go into the biggest game of our lives. We’re about to play against Lionel Messi and Argentina. 

“So I thought about it. I was like, okay, you know what? I’m going to keep quiet. I called my mum and my brothers, everybody was crying on the phone. 

“They were saying no you shouldn’t go out and play because you’re not going to be able to perform well.

“I took time on my own and I decided that I’m going to go out there and perform. I’m going to go out there and play. 

“So I didn’t tell anybody. I went on the pitch and I played. Sadly, we didn’t win the game and then after that I told everybody. 

“In the dressing room the manager and some of the players were almost in tears. They were saying you should have told us and you shouldn’t have played.”

Chelsea verdict

The Blues are going through a tough time at the moment under new owner Todd Boehly.

Despite more than £1billion spent in the transfer market, results are not being reflected on the pitch.

Mikel wants to see more leadership on the pitch.

He said: “I know Reece James is a captain and he’s a fantastic player, but when I watch him on the pitch he’s not vocal.

“I remember when John Terry used to come up to a player and grab you by the neck and be like ‘wake the F up, we’re about to lose a game here’. 

“I don’t see that here. Nobody even talks to each other. Nobody corrects, nobody screams at each other. How are you going to win games?”


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