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John Obi Mikel does not regret signing for Chelsea instead of Manchester United

by Seth Dooley

A former Chelsea player says not signing for Manchester United was one of the best decisions he ever made.

John Obi Mikel, who retired from professional football just over one week ago, signed for Chelsea in 2006 under incredibly bizarre circumstances.

The Nigerian midfielder had signed for United, taken part in a press conference, and held up a jersey bearing the no.21.

Chelsea then hijacked the deal, claiming that Obi Mikel signed his contract with United without representation. Obi Mikel supported these suggestions that he was pressured into signing a contract with United.

United had indeed announced that they bypassed his agents to convince the then-18 year old to sign a four-year contract with the club.

One year later, the transfer saga was resolved. Chelsea agreed to settle the dispute by paying Obi Mikel’s Norwegian club (Lyn 1896) £4million, whilst Roman Abramovich handed over £12m to the Glazers as compensation.

Although potentially missing out on being part of perhaps the greatest side in Premier League history (Sir Alex Ferguson’s second threepeat side and Champions League finalists on three occasions in four years), Obi Mikel insists that he does not regret his decision to back out of a move to Old Trafford.

He told BBC Sport Africa,

“I don’t regret any decision I made because I enjoyed everything I achieved at Chelsea – it’s the best decision I have ever made in my life.

“I signed a pre-contract for Manchester United when I was 17. If you are a kid and you see Sir Alex Ferguson right in front of you with the contract, of course you will be tempted.”

Obi Mikel went on to win two Premier League trophies and one Champions League title with Chelsea.

Even though he states that Sir Alex’s large personality and aura acted as a pressure point for him to originally sign for United, Obi Mikel went on to deal with another former United coach who has a huge character.

“[José] Mourinho decided that he wanted me to play the defensive midfield position. At the end of the day, he is the coach and made the decision,”

“[Claude] Makélélé was just finishing his career at Chelsea, so Mourinho wanted me to take over from Makélélé.”

Obi Mikel is now working with a project (‘Back2Base’) situated in his home country’s capital, Lagos, that aims to boost young Nigerian footballers’ profiles.

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