Nigeria captain John Obi Mikel, spent close to 11 years at Chelsea, before leaving for Chinese club Tianjin TEDA.
The 29-year-old leaves Stamford Bridge as a Chelsea great, and left with a trophy haul that not many footballers have been able to accomplish.
After 372 appearances at the club, these five things could be said about Mikel.
1. HE WAS AN UNSUNG HERO
Mikel wasn’t the kind of player that got the fans on their feet, he wasn’t the type to score an important goal, neither was he the kind of player that’ll skip past two or three players — no. Rather, he was the kind that did the simple things to perfection. He interpreted his role as a holding midfielder with the kind of simplicity that made his job go unnoticed. I will forever remember the FA Cup clash against Manchester United (under Rafa Benitez); Chelsea’s midfield was in disarray and we were 2-0 down to United. Rafa brought in Mikel and Hazard with about 30 minutes left to play, and the midfield that was in disarray became solid once more, giving the forward players the impetus to go on and draw the scores level.
Mikel’s performance in Chelsea’s Champions League triumph was one of the highlights of his Chelsea career, and he was a key figure in many titles that the club won in the last decade.
2. HE WAS A TOP PROFESSIONAL
Mikel grew from becoming a reckless teenager back in 2006, to being a mature footballer. Never one to be involved in any sort of scandal, and never one to be fined by the FA or the club. He did his job with all diligence, and was never in the news for the wrong reasons.
3. NEVER ONE TO CAUSE DRESSING ROOM UNREST
Of all the dressing room unrests that have happened over the years at Chelsea, never has Mikel been involved in any. He was a calm head, and went about his duties professionally, and had a good relationship with his teammates as well.
4. HE’S A TRUE BLUE
Truth be told — the only reason Mikel is leaving Chelsea is because he isn’t part of Antonio Conte’s plans. He leaves Chelsea as a great, and his farewell letter to the fans clearly shows how much affection he has for the club.
5. HE IS A MANAGER’S DELIGHT
From Jose Mourinho to Avram Grant, to Felipe Scolari, Guus Hiddink, Carlo Ancelotti, Rafa Benitez and Roberto Di Matteo, Mikel was an influential player — and it was mostly about his ability to read the game and follow the coach’s instructions.
During his hey days, he was one of the first names on the team sheet, and it was all down to his discipline as a player.