John Obi Mikel carried on shoulders of players Abdullahi Shehu, Kelechi Iheanacho and Chidozie Awaziem as Nigeria qualify for the World Cup during the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier football match between Nigeria and Zambia on 07 October 2017 at Godswill Akpabio Stadium, Uyo, Nigeria ©Kabiru Abubakar/BackpagePix
Monday Dec 18, 2017. 10:00
With this set to be the last PLAYER SPOTLIGHT of 2017 focusing on John Obi Mikel, let’s take a look back at the Nigerian skipper’s year.
At the start of the year 2017, Mikel began a new chapter in his career by signing on a free transfer for Chinese Super League side Tianjin TEDA.
The move ended a spell of just over 10 years at Premier League giants Chelsea, where the Nigerian midfielder made over 350 appearances and won two Premier League titles, four FA Cups, two League Cups, the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League.
Mikel’s first season in the CSL was nothing to write home about: he appeared in just 13 of Tianjin’s 30 league matches due to struggles against niggling injuries, and the club finished 13th - just two places above the relegation zone.
Yet on the international front it has been a terrific 2017 for Mikel, who captained the Super Eagles to qualification for the 2018 World Cup.
With his on-field leadership, Nigeria were the first African team to qualify for the finals in Russia, and they ended the campaign unbeaten (though FIFA have since awarded Algerian a 3-0 win over the Super Eagles, who fielded an ineligible player in their final qualifying clash last month).
Mikel will hope 2018 brings him greater success at club level in China, as well as a powerful showing from the Super Eagles in the 2018 World Cup.