The passion to borne out of patriotism and love for the leather game could get one pay some discomforting high prices like Mikel did when in 2016, he went ahead to play for his country, Nigeria for the Olympic games, and got penalized by the then Chelsea Manager, Antonio Conte.
The midfielder disclosed that even when he got a nod from the Blues hierarchy to honour the invitation by Nigeria, Conte warned him he would never play for the club again if he goes ahead with his decision.
The 33-year-old went on to captain Nigeria to win the bronze medal in the competition to become the first country to clinch all three medals at the Olympic Games after also scooping the 1996 gold and the 2008 silver medals.
Mikel has now revealed he was forced to train alone and never given an opportunity to feature for Chelsea on his return from international duty which forced him to leave for Chinese side Tianjin TEDA in January 2017 after spending 11 years at Stamford Bridge.
“This guy who has just walked in the door for five minutes is telling me I had to choose. He was saying, ‘If you do that, you won’t be a part of this team’,” Mikel told the Athletic. “I spoke to the club and told them that I wanted to go. The club respected me because of what I had done for them and how long I’d been there.
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