One of the happiest days of my life was Nigeria beating Brazil at
Atlanta 96. I cannot remember screaming louder, longer or being more
Euphoric. Yes I have had a few fantastic moments in my life but somehow I
cannot remember a happier day... or should i say one in which I was so
Indeed that is how much I love Nigerian National teams playing. And
remembering how that day went with tires burning and dancing on the
streets, I know many Nigerian who today act like manchester United or
Chelsea, Arsenal, barcelona etc are their favourite teams, I dare say
they may not know their hearts like they think.
Ok Chelsea won the last Champions league and if you follow this space on
facebook, you will realize i held vigils and prayer sessions for
Chelsea. Yet in that victory, I know it will never compare to a World
Cup final, Nigeria vs Brazil Rio De Janeiro Nigeria 2 (Moses, Anichebe)
Argentina 1 (messi) and Mikel going to lift the trophy. (Now tell me
that image does not beat your favourite club winning the Champions
The above...sweet as it is, borders on the impossible in many people's
imagination but not mine. Oh no. I am a dreamer. I am a believer. Like
Prophet Isaiah and TB Joshua, I am not afraid to look in the crystal
ball predicting the future.
Now for the above Dangote-Sugarlike wish to come true, certain things
need to be done by those in Charge of the Super Eagles and chief of
which is to manage Mikel very well. Indeed Mikel did not turn out to be
the creative player we all thought he would be. We had visions of a Zico
or Gullit but while Messi with whom he was at par in that under 21
tournament went on to understudy Ronaldinho, Etoo, Deco, etc in a
spanish league that allows self-expression, Mourinho had Mikel study
Makele in an English league that is only now letting talented players
stay in the middle as opposed to moving them to the wings and by-passing
the middle or only quick passes as opposed to dribbling and controling
the game as the Silvas, Matas, Cazorlas and Hazards are doing now.
Instead Mourinho gave us a disciplined covering defensive midfielder on
whom great successes can be built. Roberto Di Matteo only a few days ago
declared Mikel his most important player and to prove he is not merely
paying lip service, he let Essien and Meireless go...the same Essien
that walked in Real madrid first team ahead of Ozil and Modric.
True Chelsea fans know that in the two seasons we won two trophies
(Ancelotti, Di Matteo) not Ballack, not Makele, not Essien, but Mikel
that played the holding midfield. Guus Hiddink in that Ovrebo-inspired
draw (loss on away goal) to Barcelona said he regrets not having played
Mikel who was the man Of The Match in the first leg at Nou Camp. That is
how much this unsung destroyer has done the job for club. He is
approaching his seventh season in a Chelsea team that has spat out great
talents like Crespo, Shevchenko, Mutu, Del Horno, Smertin etc etc for
not being good enough. Why cannot we get him to do the same thing for
I can hear the Mikel haters saying he is unpatriotic etc but wait a
while and put yourself in his shoes. The "unpatriotic" tag started with
Siasia and the Olympic team. Chelsea just had a new coach in Scolari who
was about to buy Robinho and wanted to see which of the midfielders to
let go. Mikel told Siasia he would come late to the Olympic training as
he needs to do some pre-season and have Scolari take a look at him.
Siasia and his pride went to the papers and gave him a deadline. Now to
prove Siasia did the right thing, the Nigerian press went about saying
the most godawful things about Mikel and thus the strain began between
Mikel and the National team.
Chicarito Henandez whose father played for Mexico and who is one of the
most popular stars in North America (You guys won't believe how big and
loved he is in America with a huge Mexican population) did not go to the
London Olympics so he could prepare with Manchester United. Mikel did
not turn down his own invitation but asked to come late.
Also i ask you all to remember Mikel in the final when we lost to
Argentina. remember that young fine boy that went apart and sat on his
own and cried. Also remember how Mikel is said to have fought with that
that Yoruba defender that paired Apam Onyekachie in the under 21 that
caused both penalties against Argentina which Messi scored and who
allowed Tunisia equalize (I forget his name). Then remember that
despite Obafemi Martins scoring both goals in our 3-2 victory in Kenya,
it was Mikel that was the exceptional player which qualified us for
South Africa 2010. Thus how can people say he is unpatriotic? Okay...
he was injured in the world cup along with Essien and you really think a
player would miss the world cup for anything?
The truth is every great coach must be a good player manager. He must be
first a psychologist then a coach. No matter your strategy, if you
cannot make the players want to serve you and die for you, you will
lose. The clearest case in point is how AVB could not beat West Brom
while Di Matteo took same players and won both FA cup and Champions
In being a coach, it is not all about strategy but also player
management. Lampard tells how while he was naked and in the bathroom,
Mourinho walked up to him and said "you are the best player in the
world". Now Lampard had the more established Veron and Petite in that
same midfield and indeed lampard rose to become the second best player
in the world just behind Ronaldinho and though I am a Chelsea fan, I
know Lampards is not a flair player but one who was psyched or psyched
himself and trained endlessly into being the super-player he is. (or
It thus follows that Keshi must be a psychologist as well as a coach.The
first thing in being a psychologist is understanding temperaments.
Mikel is obviously a Melancholic. He studies situations very well, is
very emotional (he is first to celebrate every chelsea goal and first to
cry) and will respect you as long as you respect him. Both Okocha and
Kanu consider him their younger brother especially Kanu. Mikel does as
Kanu orders. In fact Mikel is an Arsenal fan cos of Kanu.
Indeed perhaps Mikel is wealthier than Kanu and Okocha as he has been on
70 thousand pounds a week for a long time compared to Kanu and Okocha's
below 50 thousand earnings. Also Mikel's bonuses are amazing yet he has
never disrespected a single player. The only other altercation is the
one between him and 2Face which was totally a misunderstanding as Mikel
paid the wrong person to bring 2face for his party and 2face didnt show
and when 2face met him in the club Mikel snubbed him and 2face didnt
know it was because Mikel thought 2face stood him up. ("If na Just me"
the 2face Classic is said to be in response to the Mikel-2face
misunderstanding). My friend Gandoki the Comedian says how well Mikel
treats him when he is in London (he has videos of this) and Mourinho is
said to have warned Mikel about his having too many hangers on
Thus having established that Mikel is no saboteur nor disobedient
person, and since he is the only Nigerian we can point to with a
world-class player profile, and just watching his contribution in the
last game against Liberia, I dare make the following suggestions viz:
Mikel should be made the captain of the Super eagles. Aijay Ofugara
pointed to me how Messi's performance has improved as well as the
Argentine team since he became Captain. Thus just like Mascherano handed
the band to Messi, Just like Khan handed it to Ballack, so must Yobo
hand it to Mikel.
It is my belief that Mikel has the full respect and awe of his teammates
and even older players like Enyeama and Osaze know their profiles do
not compare to his.
Furthermore with Mikel as captain, it will be his responsibility to
rouse the other players thus he must first rouse himself from this
slumber that is killing the Super Eagles.
If the team is built around Mikel who is an unselfish yet serious player
who loves to win and obeys coaching instructions and who sacrifices
personal glory for collective victory, it is my belief that then Nigeria
will be on her way to surprising a few big countries.
If we could win the Olympics with the Ronaldo and Bebetos, If Ghana
could go that far as to be eliminated by Penalties and suarez
Goalkeeping, if Chelsea with the slow Lampard and Bosingwa in Central
defense could beat Barca and Bayern at home to win the Champions league,
then I have a right to dream of a big Nigerian surprise and World Cup
win in Brazil. (No blame me, I am listening to Wyclef's song ANYTHING