MIKEL OBI; THE SILENT MIRACLE WORKER
Full name John Michael Nchekwube Obinna
Date of birth 22 April 1987 (age 25)
Place of birth Jos, Nigeria
Height 1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)
Playing position Midfielder
He was born in Jos, Nigeria as John Michael Nchekwube Obinna, the son of Michael Obi, who runs an inter-state transport company in Jos, the capital of Plateau state. As his father was a member of the Igbo ethnic group, "Nchekwube" means "hope" and "Obi" is a nickname for the Igbo name "Obinna" (meaning "Father´s heart").
He started his official football career at
the age of 12 when picked as a talented footballer from over 3000 young talents to play in Pepsi Football Academy. A team which at that particular time was well known for going around Nigeria to search for the best there is from all the upcoming future stars, young talents to later move on to rather more professional football. Already then Obi stood out to all the scouts. He got picked to play in a top-flight team Plateau United also known for making stars from players like Celestine Babayaro, Victor Obinna, Chris Obodo and many more which moved on to playing in European teams and representing their country later on in their careers. Later known as John Obi Mikel he was gaining headlines for his country at the FIFA Under-17 World Championships held in Finland. Subsequently he went on trial to South Africa club Ajax Cape Town, before joining Lyn in Norway.
During preparations for the 2003 FIFA Under-17 World Championships, the Nigerian Football Association mistakenly submitted "Michael" as "Mikel" for the tournament in Finland. He decided to keep the new name, saying that it had a special ring to it. On 31 July 2006, he stated that he prefers to be called Mikel John Obi instead of John Obi Mikel, as he had most commonly been called.
In the summer of 2005, Mikel played for Nigeria at the FIFA World Youth Championships held in the Netherlands. He had an excellent tournament until Nigeria reached the final, where they lost 2–1 to Argentina. Obi won the Silver Ball after being voted the tournament's second best player
Mikel made his debut for Nigeria's senior team on 17 August 2005, when he came on as a second-half substitute in a 1–0 friendly win over Libya. He did not play for the national team again prior to being named in the squad for the 2006 African Cup of Nations. In Nigeria's first group game, which was against Ghana, Mikel was an unused substitute. However, he was introduced into the second game, against Zimbabwe, early in the second half. Within ten minutes of coming on, he had supplied both the corner that resulted in Christian Obodo heading the game's opening goal, and scored Nigeria's second goal. He made his first international start in Nigeria's final group game, a 2–1 victory over Senegal.
During the 2008 African Nations Cup in Ghana, he scored 1 goal and registered one assist, both against Benin Republic, to help Nigeria qualify for the quarterfinals against hosts, Ghana where they narrowly lost 2–1.
He was called up to Nigeria's 23-man squad for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations. Where he has become a trojan in the midfield his dodgedness in the the middle has seen the eagles won many battles in the midfield especially against yaya toure and seydou keita which are pivotal to the nigeria team success at the AFCON 2013 so far,come february 10 a whole lot will depend on his wealth of experience and his numerous pin point passes as the Nation seek to win the trophy for the third time in history.