Mikel Obi spoke on a number of issues during a Q&A session at a football clinic to relaunch his Mikel Obi Foundation.
At the Children's International School in Lekki, Lagos on Sunday, November 15, the Super Eagles captain answered questions about his foundation, his 2018 FIFA World Cup experience, his career and his future with the Super Eagles.
Speaking to kids on his On his foundation
“Home is where it all started for me, Nigeria is where it all started. I will always want to give back to Nigeria, my community,” Mikel said.
“As some of you know I was born in the northern part in Jos, my family still stay in Jos, so for me, it’s all about giving back to the kids. We are here to make sure we impact kids with sports, football. But it is important to know that you need to go to school, you need to get an education and play football.
“And hopefully you guys one day will be representing Nigeria, be representing the national team, some of you will be playing for Chelsea or Manchester United, winning the Premier League, winning the Champions League.
“I hope one day one of you guys will lift the Premier League title and we will be celebrating one of you. I hope that the Mikel Obi Foundation can help you guys achieve this goal you guys have in mind. I will be here to support you in any way I can.”
Speaking to the media on his foundation
“I think now is the right time to actually come out and do it properly. I think anyone that knows me knows that when I want to do something, I always want it to be proper,” he continued.
“This is the time, this is the right time to do this for kids and also with the people I have now supporting this, we have enough to make sure it’s successful.”
“We have had discussions with clubs, not only in England but also in different European countries which I have had discussions with and everything seems to come into place and this is why I said this is the right time to start because now,” he also said.
“I know I have everything that I need to start it. We are looking from nine but still deciding the final stage. Mostly for the kids but we might have space for 18 and above.
“We want to go to the street, we will go to when the next superstar event starts you will see what is about. It is about going to the streets, to the villages to find talents, we know where the talents are.
“It will be amazing, I hope people tune in and watch and see what is about. I think it’s going to be Lagos, Abuja and we are looking at Port Harcourt.”
Speaking to the kids on playing against Lionel Messi
“I think Messi is an amazing football player. For me and my colleagues, we look at him as someone who is from a different planet. He is an amazing talent,” Mikel said.
“Anytime we play against him, we try to contain him and try not to make him score against Nigeria, but every time, he scores against Nigeria.
“So I hope one day, you guys will be the one to stop him. I want him to play forever. It’s always a pleasure playing against Messi.”
Speaking to the kids on playing in China
“For me, it’s about learning a different culture of football. I think for me I got to a stage where I wanted to experience something different and new and China was the place for me to go,” the Tianjin TEDA player said.
“The football has been growing since I got there, there are much better players. I think football in China will grow even bigger in the next five years.
“I think they are trying to grow their football and that is one of the main reasons I went there to help develop football in China as well.”
Speaking to the kids on losing to Croatia and Argentina at 2018 World Cup
“I think the Croatian game was the first game of the tournament and it was a difficult game for us,” the Super Eagles captain said.
“I think we lost two set pieces, two corner kicks to concede goals. I don’t think it was the best way to lose the game but I think it was a difficult way to lose.
“But I think looking back, you can say we actually played very well and they actually went to the final and they only beat us with two corner kicks and two set pieces.
“But also against Argentina, they have beaten us everytime we play against them in the World Cup, we always tend to lose to them. I hope one day we can stop that.”
Speaking to the kids on his 2018 World Cup experience
“For me it was amazing, it was my second World Cup and also to be the captain of the team made it extra special for me leading the team to the World Cup,” the 31-year-old said.
“Leading the team to the World Cup. I think that is the goal you guys have to set for yourselves.
“One day you want to play at the World Cup and one day you want to be the captain of the Super Eagles. I hope one of your guys will one day lead your country to the World Cup and Nations Cup.”
A kid asked how many World Cup he has won
“I don’t have a World Cup, but I don’t count, to be honest. Now my little girls tend to count them. I am very happy to have achieved so much in football and this is what I want to pass onto kids now,” Mikel said.
“That is what my foundation is about, to pass on this knowledge of the success and the winning mentality I bring to the national team, I want to bring it to the grassroots.
“I think from now if you start at this age to understand that football is all about winning, you would want to be successful. It is fun, you have to make it fun, you have to enjoy while playing but you have to get it at the back of your head that it’s all about winning.”
On his twin daughters’ favorite sports
“My girls don’t want to play football, they want to play tennis so we see what happens,” Mikel said.
His absence from the national team
“A lot has been said about my absence in the National team, I think if you have been on something for a very long time you would at some point need a little break and that’s all I’m doing, just taking a little break,” Mikel said.
“I haven't’ retired yet, I know people have said that I think the day I will, I will let everyone know, I haven’t and I’m also happy the team is doing really well without me which is very good so that I know that when I retire, I leave the team in good hand.
“We have qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations Cup (AFCON) and we will see what happens with my fitness and my motivation to go and play and win the Nations Cup again.
“I want the motivation to be 100%, to go. If it’s 60, I don’t want to go. Hopefully, it will come back soon.”
On Didier Drogba
“Amazing, He helped me so much. The day I walked in the dressing room, I was so scared, I remember seeing all the big players,” the former Chelsea midfielder said
“But when you have a big player like Drogba from Africa, I looked up to him, he took care of me, showing me around, making sure I wasn’t left on the side. He made me fit into the team and I owe that to him a lot and he is a very good friend of mine.”
On his AFCON trophy, he won with Nigeria
“I think for me when I tell people about my trophies that I won, my Champions League and My AFCON are the best two for me,” Mikel said.
“I would take my AFCON more than the Premier League for me. Growing up as a kid, I wanted to always win something for Nigeria and winning that AFCON is the second best moment of my career.”
On AFCON 2019
“I think I will be there and I hope we will be successful again,” Mikel said.
“We’ve got a very good team, a very young team and the energy in the team and the spirit in the team will get us to where we want to be in the Nations Cup. I hope we go there to win and play well as well.”
This article was most recently revised and updated 4 years ago