John Mikel Obi who retired from playing for Nigeria’s Super Eagles on Thursday has told www.aclsports.com that he expects his “son” Samuel Chukwueze to have a long lasting career with the national team.
Mikel announced his retirement from international football after Nigeria’s participation in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament while Chukwueze, one of Nigeria’s hottest young prospects featured in a competitive tournament with the Super Eagles for the first time in Egypt.
Quite a number of youngsters have come and gone during Mikel’s 14-year career with the Super Eagles and the former Chelsea star admits that it is more difficult to predict the success of young players nowadays but he still believes the Villareal prodigy will excel.
“I think Samuel can last long with the team but nowadays; football with kids with money, you never know,” began Mikel to www.aclsports.com
“But I think he’s a good kid, he’s a good boy. He’s very humble, he’s a good kid, everybody likes him in the team and I speak to him quite a lot.
“They call him my son in the team. He’s a good kid and I think he’ll be able to stay here for a very very long time,” he emphasised.
While reflecting on his final tournament with the Eagles which culminated in a third place finish in Egypt, Mikel says he had no misgivings about how it went, especially as he was not needed on the pitch by the team at some point.
“It is what it is. That’s football. You have to know when to let go, I’ve been here thirteen years, I’ve played every game that I’ve been available for so not playing two or three games is not going to kill me.
“I’ve done it all. I’ve done my part, now the young guys can carry on, it’s just the way it is. They will have somebody who is going to carry on from them too so I’m not upset about it,” a magnanimous Mikel added.
Mikel featured in ninety (90) internationally recognised games for the Super Eagles, winning the Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa in 2013.
Fisayo Dairo reporting from Cairo