Mikel reveals why Mourinho converted him to a defensive midfielder at Chelsea

The ex- Nigerian international started his career as an attacking midfielder but played a defensive role during his time with the Blues.

John Obi Mikel and Jose Mourinho

Ex-Super Eagles captain John Mikel Obi says he understands why former manager Jose Mourinho converted him to a defensive midfielder at Chelsea.

Mikel started his career as an attacking midfielder and was one of the best in that role at youth level. The former Middlesbrough played as a number ten with the Golden Eaglets and the Flying Eagles, whom he helped reach the final of the 2005 FIFA U-20 World Cup.
Mikel played as a number ten with the Flying Eagles
Mikel played as a number ten with the Flying Eagles

After winning the silver ball at the FIFA U-20 World Cup, Mikel joined Chelsea a year later. He joined the Blues with the hope he would continue in his attacking role, but to everyone’s surprise, Chelsea’s manager then, Mourinho, played the ex-Super Eagles star as a defensive midfielder.

It was a decision that baffled fans, but Mikel insists he had no problem with it. The 35-year-old said he had to play as a defensive midfielder following a chat with Mourinho.

“I wouldn’t say so,” Mikel said when asked if he thought Mourinho coached him out of attacking into defending.

Mikel says he understands Mourinho's decision to convert him to a defensive midfielder
Mikel says he understands Mourinho’s decision to convert him to a defensive midfielder

“Obviously, I was such a creative midfield player, I was so creative. I was so gifted with the ball, I never lost the ball, and that’s why I played in the number ten role.

“I was this guy who made everything happen.

“And then going to Chelsea, obviously with those big-name players, massive players, you have to kind of give something.

“And then, he [Mourinho] looked at it and said, I can’t really get you to play it [ number ten] because we have the likes of Joe Cole playing there.

“We have massive names playing there, you’ll have to change something, and we had a chat about it.

“And I thought it was a positive chat, and after that, he said, I see you playing there,” Mikel added.

Speaking further, Mikel insists he has no regret over the role, saying he still had a great career.

The ex-Stoke City player played 372 games for Chelsea, winning two Premier League titles, four FA Cups, two League Cups, the Europa League and the Champions League.

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