Former Chelsea coach to Mikel Obi: ‘You do a lot of work…’

Former Chelsea coach to Mikel Obi: ‘You do a lot of work…’
Credit: Icon Sport

John Mikel Obi who has an estimated net worth of $45 million as of November 2023, continues to make headlines through his exciting Obi One Podcast show.

In the latest episode of his podcast with co-anchor Chris McHardy, the former Super Eagles captain invited his ex-boss, Roberto Di Matteo.

Expressing his praise and candid take on Obi's time at Chelsea, Di Matteo had the following to say.

“You do a lot of work that the fans or the critics in general don't really understand or appreciate but me because I played a similar role I knew exactly how important you were for the team,” Di Matteo said on The Obi One Podcast.

“I just wanted you to play as free as possible because, as a person you're very unselfish so I'd no doubt you would give everything for the team.”

Former Chelsea coach Roberto Di Matteo
Credit: Icon Sport

Under former club owner Roman Abramovich, Chelsea acquired the services of young midfielder Mikel Obi in 2006.

At the time, the Nigerian was seen as a good replacement for Claude Makelele, who left Chelsea two years after Obi's arrival.

Although Di Matteo spent just eight months with Mikel Obi at Stamford Bridge, the pair won the Champions League together in 2012 where ex-Super Eagle played a crucial role in Chelsea's first win.

Di Matteo suggested Mikel Obi an ‘unsung hero' at Chelsea

Speaking further about his time at Chelsea, Di Matteo expressed that despite Mikel Obi's best efforts, which he really appreciated, he was more of an unsung hero at the club.

“The role that you played in our team is a little bit of an unsung hero role.”

Mikel Obi in action for Chelsea
Credit: Icon Sport

Originally a number 10, Mikel Obi was converted into a defensive midfielder by ex-Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho and he played in that position throughout his time at the London club.

Before the appointment of Di Matteo, the 2013 AFCON winner with Nigeria had already become a strong and powerful defensive midfielder with excellent positional sense and an acute eye for great passes.

So good was he at his role at Chelsea that he became a stalwart of ball control and an asset in seeing out games in the last ten minutes of matches for the Blues.

The retired Nigerian international was struggling for game time in the first part of the 2011/12 season under coach André Villas-Boas, but his situation changed with the appointment of Di Matteo as interim coach of the North London side.

The pair had their best moment in the 2012 Champions League final against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena, where he produced an outstanding performance in midfield to help the Blues win the competition for the first time in their history.

Even though Di Matteo failed to replicate his performances for the club the following year and was sacked, Mikel Obi has fond memories of him as the manager who had unwavering support and trust in his capabilities.

At Chelsea, Mikel Obi won ten major trophies, including two Premier League titles, four FA Cup titles, two Carling Cups, and one Champions League and Europa League honour each.

This article was most recently revised and updated 3 months ago

Joseph is a graduate engineer turned sports writer, he has covered lots of sports stories, match previews and predictions across various leagues on the planet.