Super Eagles captain, John Obi Mikel who has been rock solid in the midfield for Middlesbrough now has a nickname, as revealed by teammate Britt Assombalonga.
The former Chelsea player, who arrived the English Championship in January, has been dubbed uncle by his teammates.
“Uncle – I call him Uncle – is a real rock in midfield,” said admiring striker Assombalonga.
“You can just see the pure quality he brings to the pitch in midfield in every game.
“When you have that quality and experience on the pitch you always have an extra edge and an advantage.
“He lets the other boys in midfield go out and express themselves.”
Certainly, his solidity in the holding role has given Lewis Wing and Mo Besic license to push higher up the field.
“He is incredible,” enthused £15m record buy Assombalonga. “He drags players towards him, and that creates time and space somewhere else and then he gets the ball, keeps the ball and threads it into those empty space for someone to pick up and use.
“You can give him the ball even when he has players on him and he always gets out of sticky situations and finds space.
“You can give him the ball absolutely anywhere on the pitch and he will maneuver and find a space or an angle and find a way to give it to someone else in a better position. He’s awesome.”
Mikel, now 31, has won almost everything in his club career with Chelsea including the Champion League, Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup.