New Middleborough signing John Obi Mikel has revealed that the team’s ambition and mentality on set goals was instrumental in persuading to join the Teesside club despite interests from several interested clubs in England and across Europe.
The 31-year-old Super Eagles captain is a free agent after leaving Chinese outfit Tianjin Teda and has agreed terms with the Championship club, who are currently placed fifth in the table with the hopes of making it back to the English Premier League.
The Nigerian international was courted by clubs across Europe, but says his decision to return to England came after having conversations with the Boro boss about the sort of team he’d be joining.
Mikel who played at Chelsea for eleven seasons moved to China two seasons ago after failing to get playing time with the introduction of Antonio Conte while he was away on international duty with Nigeria’s Olympics team. Obi has revealed the reason for choosing the championship side; “For me it’s looking at the project I spoke to a few clubs and I also spoke to Tony [Pulis], had a good chat with him. He’s told me where he wants to go with it and it definitely fits with what I want to do.
Mith Middlesborough currently fifth on the championship table, the clubs ambition of wanting to gain promotion to the championship was a turn on for the Nigerian veteran midfielder; “The club wants to get promoted so hopefully I’m here to help in any way I can. It’s a family club and this is what I want. I like stability and this is why I was at Chelsea for a very long time.”
A two-time Premier League and Champions League winner, Mikel developed a reputation with The Blues as a defensive midfielder, but has also enjoyed much success further up the pitch as captain of his country.
The player himself says that the team comes first.
“We have to put our heads together and help each other, If anyone knows me from my years at Chelsea, I always played for the team. The team comes first and that’s exactly what I’m going to do here.
“Here is going to be a challenge, but I love challenges.”