John Obi Mikel of Nigeria
Tuesday Jul 09, 2019. 10:14
Nigeria’s veteran midfielder and captain John Obi Mikel has said that the ongoing 2019 Africa Cup of Nations is likely to be his last major tournament.
The 32-year-old, who won the 2013 AFCON with the Super Eagles and represented his country at two World Cups (2014 and 2018), told the BBC it’s time for him to pass on the torch to younger players.
"It's been an amazing ride for me in the national team," Mikel explained.
"Thirteen years I think is enough. I've won trophies, I've had a lot of amazing time. I think it's time for these young guys to carry on.
"I'm mostly here in Egypt to support the young guys and make sure they're on the right track.
"I think my presence is always important for them, hopefully I can finish with the trophy."
Mikel has made two appearances at the 2019 AFCON, but has missed Nigeria’s last two games with injury.
He hopes to return to the team for their quarterfinal against South Africa on Wednesday, or perhaps later in the tournament should Nigeria advance that far.
"If I'm fit, I'd love to play in the quarterfinal, but no need to rush," Mikel said.
"Hopefully if we can make it to the semifinals I'll probably be ready then and help the team if I'm needed.”
He added, “Obviously winning the Nations Cup in South Africa [in 2013] was the high point, that's why I want to help this young team to hopefully achieve their dreams.
"If we are able to win it here, I'll be proud and they'll be proud, then they can carry on from here."