Former Super Eagles captain Mikel Obi has claimed he was robbed of the CAF Africa Player of the Year Award in 2013.
The midfielder helped Nigeria win the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) for the third time in 2013, less than a year after he played an integral role in Chelsea’s UEFA Champions League triumph. He also won the Europa League in the same year.
But Mikel, aiming to become the first Nigerian to win the prize since Kanu Nwankwo claimed it in 1999, lost out to Ivory Coast star Yaya Toure.
“I was robbed, mate,” the former Lyn Oslo man told Dubai Eye 103.8. “Before I went, I was told that I won it. I was at the airport flying to Nigeria, because the ceremony was in Nigeria, and guess what happened? Manchester City was playing, and Yaya scored a hat-trick or two goals.”
Mikel, who has retired from football, was touted to sign for Manchester United after a breakout tournament at the FIFA U-20 World Cup.
He later made a U-turn, joining rivals Chelsea in 2006 and the player says Manchester United’s legendary gaffer Sir Alex Fergusson – who wanted to sign him then – snubbed him following his switch.
“Fergie blanked me for years,” he added. “First time we played in the FA Cup, he shunned me walking out of the tunnel. I stumbled and almost fell. Each time we met, he blanked me but I have no regrets about signing for Chelsea.
“Obviously, I signed a pre-contract with Manchester United, but before that, I was playing for Lyn Oslo in Norway. Chelsea actually sent me to Lyn Oslo and nobody knew this.
“Chelsea was looking after me, and my family, giving me bits here and there and they were paying my school fees when I was in Norway.
“I had my trials at Manchester United before I went to Chelsea. Sir Alex Ferguson loved me and all the players loved me. Roy Keane was my biggest fan. He told Ferguson he needed to sign me. He was my protector in training.
“Whenever I got tackles in training from the likes of Paul Scholes and Nikky Butt in training, Keane was ready to get in with them.
“They heard I joined Chelsea and Fergie flew into Norway and handed me a pre-contract to sign and I could not say no. And the whole thing went viral.”