What’s in a name? Nothing unless you realize it was the best kept secret of Nigerian football – done in plain sight.
The myth once was that Super Eagles captain, Mikel Obi got his first name as a result of a mistake by officials in the NFF, who made an honest error switching Michael for Mikel during visa processing documentation.
It turns out that not only was that a blatant lie, but also there could be a bigger conspiracy and its unraveling will shock you from Nigeria to China and back again.
Well, that is if the claims by former NFF Technical Director and Head of the Pepsi Academy, Kashimawo Laloko, are enough to ruffle your feathers.
“Chief” Laloko opened a can of worms on Brila FM’s Breakfast Show on Thursday, leaving dropped jaws and stunned looks in the room about his claims.
Laloko insists he has documents to prove that Michael Obi – as he would choose to call him – was a student of the academy but was illegally yanked from the system and given a fictitious name to hide his identity and aid his securing a professional contract abroad.
Even more shocking was the allegation that fellow national teammate, Joel Obi and Mikel are siblings – and not mere relatives they will have many believe.
Mikel became the golden goose of Nigeria football and in the build up to the World Cup in Russia wielded soo much influence on the team, including on Coach Gernot Rohr’s selection.
The influence grew so strong it threatened to derail the team’s preparation after a rumored row between Mikel and his vice captain, Ogenyi Onazi ensued.
That smoke was was quickly dowsed and a hasty recording of the two “playing a script” of a united front – as many argued – was shared on social media days later.
According to Laloko Rohr, lost control of the situation in camp and the perceived preferential treatment, remotely led to the outburst between the team’s two principal players and further division of the squad.
‘Joel Obi was at the World Cup , but he did not play a single game. The Coach put him there to satisfy Mikel Obi,’ Laloko argued.
‘The two are of the same Father and Mother – not just relatives. I don’t call him Mikel; Those who sold him gave him a new name. There was no mistake about his name it was delibrate,’ said Laloko.