Super Eagles midfielder, John Mikel Obi, has attributed his predicament in the national team in the recent time to lack of communication with the handlers even as he restated his commitment to give his best to Nigeria any time he gets the opportunity to do so.
Mikel, who is currently holidaying in the county after a brilliant club success with Chelsea this season, was overlooked by coach Stephen Keshi in the on-going World and African Cup of Nations qualifying round matches.
He revealed Tuesday that he is the most misunderstood personality in the national team in the recent time.
Although many critics have reasoned that his contributions to the national team have always been below par as against his commitment to his London club, they insist that his exclusion by Keshi in the busy month of June may be justified.
But on his part, Mikel insisted that the team’s handlers have not being fair to him most of the time he failed to honour national team assignment.
According to him, “It has always been my wish to win laurel for the national team but most time the handlers get it wrong with the notion that I snub the team whenever I fail to keep a date with the Super Eagles.
“This last season has not been a rosy one for me. Not many will recall that I was out of football for over nine weeks with most of my time in the treatment room. This is agonising and suddenly when I am in the recovery room, an invitation letter comes in and you want my employer (Chelsea) to be happy considering the problems I was even having with the former coach?
“People get me wrong, including the media, and it is always a problem for me in the national team. I want to play for Nigeria because the country made me what I am today after playing in the U-17 and U-20 Championships respectively. I have matured into the senior team at the expense of several other talented Nigerians. It is natural that one has the obligation to pay back,” he explained.
On his exclusion from the team in the on-going matches, Mikel insisted that the omission by the coach was not borne out of malice against him and that when it is time, he will get his chance to give his best to the nation.
“There are many players available to the coaching crew and when my time comes I will utilise it with the hope that teeming Nigerian ball fans will have a change of heart towards me,” he continued.
Mikel, however, stressed that it is possible for Nigeria to make headway in the qualifiers if all the players move in the same direction and aim to better the achievement of the ‘Golden’ generation of Okochas, Kanus and others of that era..
“There are quality players in the national team and if the likes of Osaze, Ogbuke, Uche , Kalu and many others continue to step up their play, and we all move in same direction, I can see Nigeria excelling in all competitions including the World Cup in 2014,” he advised.
The Chelsea midfielder is yet to play for the national team since Keshi took over last November. Mikel similarly had bad patches with Samson Siasia in charge earlier.
Keshi’s snubbing of Mikel may not be far from the treatment he got from the Chelsea player whom he invited earlier in the year but failed to turn up on account of nursing an injury.
But the same Mikel was in action for the Stamford Bridge team the following, thus fuelling the feeling of his lack of commitment to the Nigerian team.
“The World and Nations Cups are big tournaments and everybody knows that I was injured the last time. I am now giving my word that I will be available for the up-coming matches if the invitation comes my way,” Obi offered at a briefing on his pet project- a foundation to help alleviate the suffering of the Almajjiris.
Mikel claimed the urge to start with the Almanjiris project in Jos will help restore peace in the state where he grew up.
“I grew up with these people (Almanjiris). We played football together in my humble beginning and know the pain they go through. I feel the burden and now it’s time to come to their aid and restore peace in the society,” he explained.
The Foundation will be officially launched on Friday in Lagos with other activities such as ‘Welcome the Champion’ party organised by members of Lagos Business Community led by the Chairman of the Tetrazzini group of companies, Donatus Okonkwo.
Lagos State Governor, Raji Fashola is expected to grace the occasion as a special guest of honour.