By George Aluo
Super Eagles captain, John Mikel Obi has not been playing for his English Premiership side, Chelsea this term.
In fact the player who has been at Stamford Bridge for 11 seasons says it is time to move on since the club’s new manager, Antonio Conte has not been looking in his direction. But despite not enjoying playing time at his club, the 29-year old midfielder has been having a fine run for Nigeria.
At the Rio 2016 Olympics, Mikel played a yeoman’s role, leading the Dream Team to win a bronze. In the Super Eagles, Mikel has continued to hold forth in the midfield like the rock of Gibraltar.
How has he been coping at the international level since he is being overlooked out there in Chelsea at a time when he would ordinarily have been match rusty? Mikel who spoke to Saturday Sunsports after the 3-1 victory over Algeria last weekend in Uyo said discipline has been his watchword.
Hear him:”It has not been easy. I m coping and doing well in the national team because I have made discipline my watchword. I don’t indulge in things I shouldn’t do as a professional footballer…you know what I mean. I train very well, sleep when I should sleep and also watch what I eat and drink. That’s it. So even when I’m not playing in Chelsea I come to the Eagles fit and ready to play.”
Mikel also gave kudos to Gernot Rohr who has not sidelined him because of his Chelsea predicament.
“The coach has been supportive and we do what he tells us to do on the pitch. That’s why we are getting result.”
Mikel who also spoke on his Chelsea future did not mince words in declaring that it was time for him to move on after 11 years at the London club.
“I have played for Chelsea for 11 years now. There is nothing that says I can’t move. Honestly, a time comes when one has to move. I have to move on, we’ll see how it goes in January,” Mikel said.
It would be noted that since after choosing country ahead of club for the Olympics, things have not remained the same for Mikel at the club level.
Meanwhile, Eagles manager, Rohr while commending Mikel for his leadership role said the player is only paying the price of featuring at the Olympics with his Chelsea no show.
“Mikel played like a true leader against Algeria. He commands the respect of the team, marshalling and putting so much energy into the effort of the team,” Rohr said, adding, “not playing at Chelsea is the price he is paying for his participation in the Olympics. We should all acknowledge the commitment of Mikel to the national team.”