After 10-and-a-half years spent at Chelsea Football Club, John Obi Mikel decided to call it quits. He signed for Chinese club Tianjin TEDA, after making over 370 appearances for the club, making him one of the 20 most featured players for Chelsea.
Over the years at the club, these quotes were said about his former manager’s of the former Chelsea number 12:
Jose Mourinho in Mikel in April 2007: “He is a genius in his position. It is a miracle if he loses the ball.”
Luiz Felipe Scolari on Mikel: “I knew he would be a big part of my team.
“With Claude Makelele leaving I was sure Mikel could be the player to play in his position in the future.
“When Makelele was here he was the one playing because he was the more experienced player. But now is the time for Mikel. I always pick him.
“If we don’t give him the chance to play how will he get the experience? He’s had maybe 20 games for me and played 18 very well.
“He’s so young, only 21, and has learned a lot with Makelele and Michael Essien, who’s injured at the moment.
“He looks like he belongs in the position, knows more about his position and is a more experienced player.
“Mikel is like a lot of African players who have what all coaches want which is power but also style where they are comfortable with the ball, can control it and dribble with it.”
Carlo Ancelotti on Mikel Obi in July 2009: “I have a lot of trust in Mikel, I think he can be the playmaker of this team. He is a young player, but has great quality, both technical and tactical.
“For the present and for the future he is a very important player for us. We are very happy he has signed a new contract and I hope that he stays at Chelsea for a lot of years.
“I would like that he puts in his great quality for the team.”
On the return of Mikel and Victor Moses from the African Cup of Nations, an excited Rafa Benitez said: “It’s important to have happy and confident players around, so it’s good for the team that they won and they’ve brought that confidence and belief back with them.
“Both of them progressed as individuals through the tournament.
“Obi has more experience and you could expect good performances from him.”
Roberto Di Matteo on Mikel Obi: “I don’t think John [Mikel Obi] gets the credit for the work he does for the team,” Di Matteo said.
“His team-mates and the management team understand and appreciate it, but maybe the fans are more focused on the more creative players and goals scorers, but that role is vital in our team.
“Over the years he has been almost ever-present, and he has been very important over the back end of last season and this season he started in good form.
“He has a thankless task really, and I understand because I played in that role myself a little bit during my career.
“He and the player alongside him need to have a good understanding and communication, so that we always have one of the two behind the ball who is able to provide an outlet for us, to switch play, and also be the first player thinking about if we lose the ball. Our team needs organisation in front of the defence,” Di Matteo added.
Guus Hiddink on Mikel Obi in 2016: “If the team is not willing to defend well or have the right balance then you concede a lot of goals. I thought John Obi can be one of the key figures in getting the balance back. On top of that the talented players can then explore their qualities.
“He can recover the radar. He knows the game very well. He knows where the strength of the opponent is and he knows exactly how to cope with that. He has a very good eye, a very good nose, and a very good sense of where to recover.
“He doesn’t do it in a very brutal way – he’s very, very elegant. What I like to see very much is not just a quality player but a player who can defend so smoothly. It’s beautiful to see. He doesn’t lose many balls, he’s good in short passing. I don’t expect and I don’t ask him to make the decisive final pass. He can but no, we let the other players do that.”