StoryMikel reflects on short spell at United

John Obi Mikel is a Nigerian international with one of the most distinguished careers in modern times but he will probably be best remembered as the teenager at the centre of the most bizarre transfer stories ever.

As a teenager with a huge reputation he was touted as the next big thing and it seemed he was odds-on to be playing for Manchester United. A deal had been struck in April 2005.

He had already trained with United and made an instant impression. So much so that even the legend that was Roy Keane decided to take him under his wing and shield him from the likes of Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt who gave the youngster a hard time in training.

“I trained with the first team. Roy Keane was my bodyguard.” Mikel told the Sun newspaper.

“Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt always tried to kick me but couldn’t when Roy was there because he would have killed them.

“Sir Alex called me Obi Wan (after the Star Wars character).

“He called me into his office one day and said: ‘Obi Wan, do you know what Keane, Scholes and all the senior players have told me? They said you have to sign that boy. I couldn’t believe it.”

Mikel was shell-shocked that all the big names wanted him but just as it seemed he was destined for Old Trafford, Chelsea forced their way into the picture and after an intense tug-of-war, the Nigerian decided to go to Stamford Bridge.

It was one of the few times that Sir Alex Ferguson was beaten to a transfer target and Mikel would sign for the Blues for £16million in June 2016.

He ended up spending 11 seasons at Chelsea making 249 appearances scoring just the one goal winning 2 Premier League titles, 4 FA Cups, 2 League Cups and famously the Champions League in 2012.