Chelsea’s Nigerian midfielder John Obi Mikel received his English Premier League African Player of the Month of December award recently and expressed delight at it.
In a brief ceremony at the Chelsea training ground, Mikel expressed gratitude to the organisers, New African Soccer, and the African fraternity that took part in the vote that saw him emerge winner.
“It is a clear motivation for me, as it makes me see that whatever we do is being noticed, and the good things are appreciated. No one can but be happy at receiving any award and I will treasure this one”, he said.
On the seeming difficulty he seemed to have had in keeping a regular spot in the team at the start of the season, Mikel said “We all know Chelsea packs quality; and, to even be in the reckoning at all is a big thing. Fellow Africans will agree with me that it is not easy to break into the Premier League; but I have weathered it - this is my ninth year, and I have no regrets at all”, continuing, he said, “the key is to keep working hard. That is what I do. I don’t complain, I don’t moan; I work hard and when my chance comes, I take it - and you can see that it is why the boss has faith in me”.
Mikel is an integral part of the Nigerian national team that did not make it to the Africa Cup of Nations, currently taking place in Equatorial Guinea, and he lamented not being able to defend the crown they won in 2013.
“Of course it is painful. We all wanted to be at the biggest stage in Africa, especially as we are the holders. But we all know many factors contributed to our inability to qualify, and the less said about it the better” he said. “We as players know we could have done more, and especially in the match against South Africa which we needed to win at home. But that is history now. We have learnt from it. We hope the authorities will also learn from it and we can get better”.
“For now, my focus is back on my team, with an aim to win everything that comes. People are talking about the quadruple. Just like they put it in our minds that we might be able to go the whole season unbeaten. We didn’t want to be beaten. And yes, we are in the hunt for four trophies; and we know it won’t be easy. But we are working hard, and we know we are a successful side, so lets see what we come up with in May” he concluded.