Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel has admitted that he loves playing for his nation – Nigeria, and will continue to do so, despite asking to pull out of their recent international friendly against Mexico.
Mikel has not been involved so much with the Chelsea squad in the latter half of the season due to a hip injury, but has been a consistent member of the side since 2006. The Nigerian was brought to Chelsea by then manager, Jose Mourinho, from the Norwegian club Lyn, in a transfer that was known for all the controversial reasons.
In his first year at the club, Mikel only played 22 Barclays Premier League appearances. But this number increased in the next season due to injury to Michael Essien, giving Mikel the chance to impress at the defensive midfield position. He played 29 matches in the second season, and 34 matches in the next, cementing his place in the Chelsea lineup as one of the permanent senior members of the squad.
Essien ultimately was sent on loan to Real Madrid, where Mourinho was manager, and this cleared the way for Mikel to have a spot assured in the side. With fellow midfielder Ramires showing attacking instincts, Mikel has firmly grasped the position as an anchor in the midfield, playing just ahead of the defensive line.
Mikel made his debut for Nigeria in 2005, but has not managed to back it up with consistent national appearances. The 26-year old has only made a total of 38 appearances for the country, which has led to speculation about his commitment to the side.
According to SkySports, Mikel has reiterated his commitment to his country, and that he wants to represent his national side in the upcoming fixtures. He has also suggested that he will fully participate in the Confederations Cup, which takes place in Brazil, a year before the World Cup.
Mikel said ”I have always liked to play for my country, I will play the next two games and the Confederations Cup as well.”
He also commented on the excellent season Chelsea had, and concluded, “We finished strongly at Chelsea, to win two European trophies in two years is very good.”