Former Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel has announced his retirement from football at the age of 35.
The Nigeria international broke through at Norwegian side Lyn FK and joined Chelsea in 2006, but only after a lengthy legal battle which saw the Blues pay a penalty to Manchester United, who had actually agreed to sign him first.
He’d go on to spend 11 years at Stamford Bridge, making 372 appearances for the club and winning two Premier Leagues, three FA Cups, the 2011/12 Champions League and the 2012/13 Europa League.
Mikel moved to Chinese side Tianjin in 2017 before spending time with Middlesbrough, Trabzonspor, Stoke City and Kuwait SC, the latter of whom he left in November 2021.
“There is a saying that ‘all good things must come to an end’, and for my professional football career, that day is today,” Mikel wrote on Instagram.
“I look back at the past 20 years of my career, and I must say that I am very satisfied with all that I was able to achieve and more importantly the human it has helped shape. All of this would not have been possible without the unwavering support of my family, managers, clubs, coaches, teammates and most importantly my ever-loyal fans. You supported me through my highs and lows, even on days that I did not live up to your expectations. I say a big thank you.
“I will also like to encourage everyone who I may have inspired one way or the other in the course of my career to never give up on their dreams, for every time you think about quitting, remind yourself why you started.
“This is not goodbye, it’s the start of another journey, another chapter of my life. I look forward to what the future holds and I hope you will walk with me. Thank you.”