Posted by By GBOLAHAN DADA on
John Mikel Obi’s father is not happy. He feels bad that Nigerians have been so hard on his boy over his failure to honour the Lesotho Nations Cup qualifier.
John Mikel Obi’s father is not happy. He feels bad that Nigerians have been so hard on his boy over his failure to honour the Lesotho Nations Cup qualifier. He’s miffed that such barrage of attacks from left, right and centre have the potency of destroying the boy’s blossoming career.
A member of the Nigeria Football Association (NFA) board, Dr. Peter Singabele, and former Eagles star, Friday Elaho, had hammered Mikel for not turning up for the match against Lesotho, saying he was toying with his future as a young player who needs every opportunity to properly establish himself in the team. It was also their hope that Eagles matches would enhance his professional career, if he should decide to move to another club in the future.
But Mikel’s father, Michael Obi, said he was not impressed with the way Nigerians have been hammering his son for nothing, because the Chelsea player has not done anything bad at all.
Mr. Obi, who bears the same name as his son, said he had asked Mikel why he failed to honour the Eagles match against Lesotho, and he said it was due to his inability to process his travelling papers on time for the trip to Lesotho, via South Africa.
"In fact, I was mad when I read a series of reports against my son on the pages of newspapers," the angry father said on phone from Jos, apparently sounding so disturbed. "Mikel didn’t deserve all these criticisms. He is a patriotic child. I don’t know why they are doing this to my son.
"As soon as I heard he was not going to play against Lesotho, I called him, and he explained why he could not make the trip. His manager tried all he could to get him on board for the match but by the time he got his visa, it was too late for him to embark on the journey. I know my son cannot lie. I know him very well. He’s my son.
"So, I want Nigerians to exercise patience and give him more time. Mikel is a small boy. He’s just growing up and he needs the support of every Nigerian to succeed. But some people are just out to destroy him. The criticism is just too much for a player of his calibre. Mikel said to avoid similar re-occurrence, he would want NFA to always make the invitation available on time so that his club can see it and release him on time."
The elder Obi also revealed how family members have been reacting to Mikel’s progress in the Premiership and their wish for the young player.
"When Mikel had problem with his transfer to the Premiership, we all came together as a family to pray for him and, at the end, God answered our prayers. And now, they are cooking up another controversial stories about him. We have decided not to rest on our oars because we don’t want his career to be destroyed by people’s words. Mikel is a destiny child and they should allow him to enjoy his life.
"I have told him to be up and doing in responding to national invitation, and he said he would never behave in such manner again.
"I want all Nigerians to remember the past. I want them to play back the tapes of the last FIFA World Youth Championship in Holland, when Mikel played his heart out to put Nigeria’s name among the best football playing nations in world. We all know that his contributions in the Under-20 team gave him the Best Player’s award, behind Argentina’s Lionel Messi. And, on that record, he was invited into the senior national team. You can see that my son merited the invitation and he’s proud to play for Nigeria any day he’s called upon to do so."
FIRST RED CARD
Mikel received his first baptism of fire last weekend, when he was sent out by centre referee Mike Riley for his unsportsmanly attitude on the field of play against injury-hit, Sam Sodje’s FC Reading. Although Chelsea won the the match 1–0, they have yet to get over the disaster recorded during the keenly contested duel.
Mikel got the marching order for two bookable offences as the champions finished a game decided by Frank Lampard's deflected first half free-kick with nine men and England’s captain, John Terry, in goal. Two of Chelsea’s goalkeepers are still recuperating in hospital, after successful surgeries.
Reacting to these unfortunate incidents, the elder Obi blamed his son for responding in such a disgraceful manner. He said he shouldn’t have played so badly.
"I wasn’t happy the way Mikel played that match. Shortly after the match I called him to express my bitterness. I told him to always behave himself on the pitch. He shouldn’t let the game get into his head. I said no matter what happens on the pitch, he should always be himself and concentrate. I told him referees are there to protect him and he should not retaliate on the pitch. I warned him to maintain discipline at all times."