Picking a Dream Team of John Obi Mikel’s teammate
Who are the best players the former Chelsea man has played with over the course of his career?
Petr Cech (Goalkeeper)
It was a tough call leaving out Nigeria’s legendary goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, but Cech was never going to miss out here!
Mikel and the former Czech Republic shot-stopper played together between 2006 and 2015, winning multiple Premier League titles, FA Cups, League Cups and the Champions League in 2012.
In addition, the pair also won the Europa League in 2013 which completed their sweep of Europe’s primary and secondary club competitions.
Branislav Ivanovic (Right-back)
The powerful Serb was one of the Premier League’s top defenders during Mikel’s time in West London and was named in the PFA Team of the Year in 2010 and 2015.
‘Bane’, a Chelsea player from 2007 till January 2017, won several important titles in that time with the Nigeria midfielder.
It was Ivanovic’s header that decided the 2013 Europa League final against Benfica, a win that saw the Blues become one of a select few to win the Champions League, Europa League/Uefa Cup and the defunct Cup Winners Cup.
Success also meant they’d won the continent’s premier club competition and its secondary version in successive seasons, the second club to do so, and they became the first side to hold both titles too (until Bayern Munich won the CL days later on May 25 2013).
Ashley Cole (Left-back)
England and Chelsea’s primary left-back for years, Cole was one of the best in the business for a decade or thereabouts.
The marauding full-back, like Mikel, joined the club after a protracted saga but wasn’t deterred by the criticism and continued his success.
The pair won the league in 09/10, both European titles in 2012 and 2013, as well as four FA Cup titles, which outright made Cole the most decorated player in football’s oldest cup competition with seven wins.
John Terry (Centre-back)
We were certainly not going to leave out Chelsea’s dedicated captain and leader during Mikel’s time in West London.
Terry bled blue and gave his all for the club for nearly two decades, winning a plethora of titles along the way to become the club’s most decorated captain.
During the Nigerian’s time at the club, the Englishman was named in the PFA Team of the Year in 14/15, Fifa FifPro World XI thrice, Uefa XI on three occasions, and was voted the best defender on the continent twice.
Joseph Yobo (Centre-back)
One of the members of Nigeria’s 2013 Africa Cup of Nations winning side, Yobo was arguably the Super Eagles’ most dependable performer in the 2000s and early 2010s.
The defender captained the West African nation to success in South Africa, ending their 19-year wait for the continent’s most glamorous title.
While Yobo’s gametime was limited, his all-round influence proved useful to Stephen Keshi’s troops.
Claude Makelele (Defensive midfield)
While the attempt to create another Makelele compromised the Nigerian’s career, the Frenchman features in this XI owing to his influence in Chelsea’s dominance in the mid-2000s.
Having the anchorman role named after him highlighted his unrivalled understanding of the position. Mikel played with the 2002 Champions League-winner for two seasons which produced two domestic cup victories.
The Super Eagle’s performance in the 1-0 FA Cup success was noteworthy as it signalled a changing of the guard at the base of the Blues’ midfield.
Wilfred Ndidi (Central midfield)
Leicester City’s uncompromising midfielder couldn’t displace Makelele at the base of the midfield, but features alongside the iconic Frenchman in midfield.
In recent years, the Nigerian has grown from ball winner to all-action midfield man, owing to his growth since moving to England.
Ndidi featured alongside Mikel in the Nigeria side that qualified fairly easily for the 2018 World Cup and Afcon 2019, a welcome development after years of last-minute panic and permutations for fans of the West African nation.
Michael Essien (Central midfield)
Essien’s dynamism in Chelsea’s midfield in the mid-to-late 2000s was a joy to behold.
The Ghana star was one of the best in his pomp and was arguably the best box-to-box midfielders in world football at the time.
He and Mikel were teammates between 2006 and 2014, a successful period for the London side which peaked with their 2012 Champions League triumph.
Frank Lampard (Attacking midfield)
Chelsea’s top scorer revolutionised how goalscoring midfielders were perceived, and his timely runs into the box became his trademark.
Lampard was hugely helped by water carriers like Makelele, Mikel and Essien, who acted as the foil to let him flourish in the final third.
Mikel and the Blues legend played side-by-side in Chelsea’s greatest night where they won the Champions League against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena.
Eden Hazard (Attacking midfield)
Leaving out Juan Mata was a tough call, but there had to be a place for the magnificent Belgian who has been Chelsea’s most talented signing since Gianfranco Zola.
In West London, Hazard became one of the best players in Europe, constantly mesmerising the opposition with his skill and matched that with the required end product as well.
The ex-Lille man was named in the PFA Team of the Year in his first campaign and followed that up to be voted PFA Young Player of the Season the next season.
Unsurprisingly, the playmaker was outright best in the league in Chelsea’s 14/15 title win, as the Blues won their first title since 2010.
Didier Drogba (Centre-forward)
Sorry Diego Costa, but we were never going to leave out the talismanic Drogba, Chelsea’s ultimate big-game player.
In truth, many of the titles Mikel won in West London could be attributed to the Ivorian forward’s goals.
Drogba had an uncanny knack for scoring hugely important goals to swing tight matches in his side’s favour, with the 2007 FA Cup final strike against Manchester United and 2012 victory over Bayern particularly noteworthy.