John Obi Mikel (born 22 April 1987) is a Nigerian professional footballer who plays as a defensive midfielder for EFL Championship club Stoke City.
Mikel began his career with local club Plateau United, before joining Norwegian club Lyn at the age of 17 in 2004. In 2006, he made a controversial transfer to English club Chelsea after Manchester United claimed they had already signed him. He stayed with Chelsea for 11 years, before moving to China with Tianjin TEDA in 2017.
After two years in China, he returned to England on a short-term deal with Middlesbrough, before joining Trabzonspor on a free transfer in July 2019. Mikel moved back to England in August 2020 joining Stoke City. In a 14-year international career between 2005 and 2019, he played 88 times for Nigeria, scoring six goals.
On 12 August 2011, Mikel’s father, Michael Obi, was the victim of a suspected kidnapping in Nigeria. Mikel was informed before Chelsea’s match against Stoke City two days later but opted to play despite his concerns for his father’s well-being. On 15 August 2011, Mikel made an impassioned plea for his father’s safe return. He told Sky Sports News, “I’ve always tried to help the country, this is the time for the country to help me, whoever knows where my dad is should please contact me.”
Michael Obi was found alive on 22 August 2011, in the Nigerian city of Kano. His abductors were reported to be in police custody. On 26 June 2018, a few hours before a FIFA World Cup match, Mikel was informed of another kidnapping of Michael Obi, but did not tell any of his team members. The Enugu State Police stated that they rescued Michael Obi on 2 July after a gunfight.