By John Essien
Legendary Super Eagles midfielder, Mikel Obi has singled out former Chelsea teammate, Michael Essien for praise, following his support for him during his early years at Stamford Bridge.
Mikel joined Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea in 2006 – where he met the ex-Black Stars captain whom he claimed had helped him settle in faster at the club.
The 34-year-old, who now plies his trade in the Kuwaiti top-flight with Kuwait SC, had spent majority of his career at Stamford Bridge which spanned 11 years.
Mikel who was first surprised by the calibre of his teammates, revealed how Essien encouraged him to dominate the Blues’ midfield.
“Suddenly, I was sharing a dressing room with all these players I had watched on television back in Africa. I was sitting next to Lassana Diarra. I’d be there thinking, ‘Oh my God, it’s Didier Drogba. It’s Frank Lampard. It’s John Terry’.
“Michael Essien (who joined from Lyon in the summer of 2005) really helped me. Michael always told me I was a good player and just reminded me to bring the ball down, control and pass. If you need to dribble, dribble. If you don’t need to, just pass. You are strong. You are fast, too. If you can, just push the ball past and run, run, run because they cannot catch you,” Mikel told the Athletic.
“He was the guy who really helped me and made me have a lot of confidence,” he added.
Mikel would soon go on to become one of the Chelsea’s most decorated players, winning the Champions League and Europa League, two Premier League titles, four FA Cups and two League Cups during his 11-year spell.