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Former Nigeria captain Mikel Obi says picking Chelsea over Manchester United in a highly controversial transfer in 2006 was the ‘best decision’ of his career.
Africa Today News, New York reports that the Nigerian midfielder, who retired last week at the age of 35, was the subject of a bitter dispute between the Red Devils and the Blues in 2005, before signing for the latter the following year.
His decision to move to London, having initially signed for the Manchester side from Norwegian club Lyn Oslo, ultimately proved rewarding.
Mikel became one of the club’s most decorated players, winning the Champions League, Europa League, two Premier Leagues, two League Cups, and four FA Cups in an 11-year spell which ended when he left Stamford Bridge in 2017.
‘I don’t regret any decision I made because I enjoyed everything I achieved at Chelsea – it’s the best decision I have ever made in my life,’ Mikel told BBC Sport Africa.
‘I signed a pre-contract for Manchester United when I was 17. If you are a kid and you see Sir Alex Ferguson right in front of you with the contract, of course you will be tempted.’
Having made plenty of previous running, Chelsea were shocked when he signed for their rivals. His agent John Shittu immediately travelled to Oslo to take the player to London, while Lyn swiftly declared him missing.
Mikel took to his Instagram page to announce his decision to hang up his boots with a photo of his 20-year career’s biggest highlights and a lengthy statement.
The legendary midfielder’s message read, “There is a saying that ‘all good things must come to an end,’ and for my professional football career, that day is today (Tuesday).
“I look back at the past 20 years of my career, and I must say that I am very satisfied with all that I was able to achieve and more importantly the human it has helped shape.
“All of this would not have been possible without the unwavering support of my family, managers, clubs, coaches, teammates and most importantly my ever-loyal fans.
“You supported me through my highs and lows, even on days that I did not live up to your expectations. I say a big thank you.
“I will also like to encourage everyone who I may have inspired one way or the other in the course of my career to never give up on their dreams, for every time you think about quitting, remind yourself why you started.
“This is not goodbye, it’s the start of another journey, another chapter of my life. I look forward to what the future holds and I hope you will walk with me. Thank you.”
The 35-year-old was best known for his exploits at Chelsea, where he won nine titles in 11 years at Stamford Bridge.
Mikel also enjoyed immense success on the international stage, earning 89 caps for Nigeria scoring six goals as well as winning the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa.