‘I Was the Zidane of the Nigeria National Team’ — Mikel Obi Brags to Former Chelsea Teammate Eden Hazard

Mikel Obi playing for Nigeria at the 2018 World Cup | Imago

‘I Was the Zidane of the Nigeria National Team’ — Mikel Obi Brags to Former Chelsea Teammate Eden Hazard

Ayoola Kelechi 20:07 - 25.02.2024

Mikel Obi made a bold claim comparing himself to French legend Zinedine Zidane

In an engaging episode of his podcast, "Obi One," former Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel had a lively exchange with his ex-teammate, Eden Hazard, about their playing days and beyond. 

The conversation took an intriguing turn when the topic of penalty-taking skills came up, leading Mikel to make a bold comparison between himself and the French football legend, Zinedine Zidane, in the context of his role in the Nigeria national team.

A Comparison with Zidane

During the podcast, Hazard playfully questioned Mikel's penalty-taking prowess, to which Mikel responded, “In Nigeria, I used to shoot the penalties. In the Nigeria national team, I was the Zidane.” While the comparison to Zidane, known for his elegance, vision, and technique on the ball, may raise eyebrows, it underscores Mikel's importance to the Super Eagles and his confidence in his abilities. 

Mikel's journey with Nigeria, from his debut in 2005 to his retirement after the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, saw him evolve into a key player, embodying leadership and creativity on the field.

Mikel Obi: Nigeria’s Zinedine Zidane?

Mikel Obi, a central figure for Nigeria's Super Eagles, had an illustrious international career, capped 91 times and contributing to Nigeria's 2013 Africa Cup of Nations win. His journey with the national team was marked by significant highs, including a pivotal role in the team's runner-up finish at the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship, where he was awarded the Silver Ball, second only to Lionel Messi. Mikel's impact was not limited to youth level; he consistently demonstrated leadership and skill on the senior stage, contributing goals and assists that often proved decisive.

Despite facing challenges, including a suspension from national team activities and missing out on the 2010 FIFA World Cup due to injury, Mikel's commitment to the Nigerian squad never wavered. His leadership was further highlighted when he captained the Nigerian team at the 2016 Olympics, leading them to a bronze medal finish. Mikel's performances, particularly in crucial matches against top competition, solidified his status as a national team stalwart.

Mikel Obi's comparison to Zidane may be seen as a bold statement, but it reflects the weight of his contributions and the high regard in which he holds his international career. Through the ups and downs, Mikel remained a figure of inspiration and pride for the Super Eagles, mirroring the impact Zidane had with France. As Mikel and Hazard reminisced about their careers, this conversation not only highlighted Mikel's achievements with Nigeria but also brought to light the playful camaraderie between two football stars who have left indelible marks on the sport.

Related content