The latest edition of Chelsea, features an exclusive interview with John Mikel Obi, who gives an insight into his role on and off the football field and how he has developed during his time with the Blues, which will reach the 10-year mark in the summer.
In fact, the Nigerian can still remember vividly his first day at Cobham training round when he joined as a fresh-faced 19-year-old.
‘I came into the dressing room that day literally shaking,’ he recalls. ‘I saw the players that were in there – the likes of John Terry, Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba, Claude Makelele, Geremi, Michael Essien, Michael Ballack, Andriy Shevchenko – it was crazy. And I was just 19
‘I was shaking the whole day because I couldn’t talk to any of them. I didn’t know what to say to guys like that. They were really nice guys, but it was scary. It can be tough coming into a dressing room like that as a younger player. You had to earn the right to be among them.’
He has certainly done that over the years, and this season he has played a key role in the Blues’ improved form in the new year. Guus Hiddink has spoken about their No.12 in glowing terms and Mikel is pleased with his role in the team.
‘I love doing my defensive duties, but at the same time I love having the ball and always trying to be available so we can play out from the back,’ he said. ‘This is something we’ve talked about, something the manager has stressed – trying to play out from the back so we can always be in control of the game. I think doing this we have much more possession of the ball.
‘I like having the ball and making the team play. When I was young, my natural position wasn’t as a defensive midfielder so maybe that gives me a bit of an edge.’ He said.