John Obi Mikel has said that winning the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations Cup and the crowd that met the team on arrival in Nigeria is a feeling he will never forget.
The Chelsea midfielder played a big part in the Super Eagles’ run to their third continental title where he became a leader on and off the pitch.
“It was crazy. It was really nice to go back home after the tournament with the cup – the whole country was waiting,” he told his club’s official magazine.
“It was a big, big thing, because we couldn’t walk, we couldn’t actually get out of the airport. The whole way through, from the airport to the hotel where we were staying, it was crazy.’
Mikel missed a penalty kick in the second match against Zambia but he did not allow that miss to dampen his enthusiasm as he went on to be named in Caf’s XI of the tournament with outstanding displays against Cote d’Ivoire and Mali in the quarter finals and semi-finals respectively.
“Every major tournament makes you become more mature.
“I think it’s because I have played in so many major tournaments at such a young age that I have the maturity – you go through a hard time to win tournaments and it makes you grow.
“It’s a life experience and it’s something that I have been lucky enough to do from a young age at Chelsea as well, where I have played alongside some of the best players in the world and I’ve learnt a lot from them.’
The Chelsea midfielder is happy that they overcame a strong field to win the tournament.
“The level has gone right up. So to win it this time was just amazing.
“To win it at a stage when African football has become so interesting – when there are so many African players abroad – was really, really difficult, and we did it,” he said.
Mikel thus added the Nations Cup to the Champions League, Premier League and FA Cups that he has won at his time with Chelsea FC.