A football rivalry of a different sort was forged back in 2005 at the FIFA U20 World Cup when Argentina and Nigeria clashed in the final of the competition- the major actors Mikel Obi and Lionel Messi.
Both players went on to build very glittering careers and in 13 seasons the on-field rivalry blossomed in admiration.
That admiration was perhaps one of the best kept secret, until Mikel Obi spilled the beans.
Asked to weigh-in on the unending Lionel Messi vs Cristiano Ronaldo debate and who he was rooting for, the Nigeria captain didn’t mince words.
“Messi All day,” all chorused.
The duo have featured prominently on the international stage since 2005, for their respective Nations, and extended the rivalry to club football with Chelsea and Barcelona in the UCL.
Yet, you couldn’t tell how big an influence the Argentine had on the former Chelsea man until a recent interview where he simply just confessed it all.
“Messi All day. For me he’s from a different Planet. Soo, grateful to have been able to play with him; from the under 20s we started playing together.
“Played against him so many times I’m so privileged to have done that.”