Nigerians have taken to social media to express their opinion over an interview granted by former Super Eagles captain John Mikel Obi.
In a Rio Ferdinand-hosted podcast called ‘Vibe with 5,’ Mikel described the kind of financial pressure that African footballers face because they frequently support extended family and friends back home.
“When you come from Africa and make money, it is not just your money. You have all these relatives, cousins, and a lot of them. Then your sisters get married to some guy who just wants to get married to John Obi Mikel’s family because my life is sorted. You start looking after the guy. You send money to your sister, but the money goes to him. And he does whatever he does with it,” Obi said.
“When you get the money, after you’ve shared it, you’re left with little remaining. And they keep having so many kids, and you’re asking who is going to take care of them, but they are looking up to you to look after them. You are looking after the kids, the husband, and the husband’s family, and it becomes absolutely crazy. For them, you owe them that. It is the culture you owe them that and you stop to think, I don’t owe you anything,” he said.
“Because anything I was getting, I was giving so much to the family. They got so comfortable that they were expecting you to do that, and I got to that point 5 years ago where I had to say, Guys, I don’t care what you say.”
“If you don’t do it, we are going to go to the press. You are thinking, your brother, your family, after all I have done for you guys. It happens a lot,” the former Chelsea midfielder stated.
Reacting on X (formerly twitter), a user by name Biola Kazeem wrote: “The data is very clear. 40% of EPL players are bankrupt within 5 years of retirement. It is even worse for African/Nigerian players. When you go broke, it is those you helped for so long that will lead your mockery. I know too many broke Nigerian players not to understand Mikel.”
Another tweep, with username, kingchyk, said: “Mikel’s unprovoked public outburst where he labelled his family members as leeches mirrors into the career he had with National team and why he was such a disruptive character. Always having running battles with Coaches. Dude is clearly a selfish motherfucka.”
Nobody should ever say Mikel Obi didn’t help people, the same Mikel Obi during the Rio Olympics 2016 when the players threatened to pull out due to unpaid allowances, stepped in.
He organised travels, paid for meals and booked training pitches while preparing for the matches as… pic.twitter.com/S7lXa5FwqK
— SportsDokita (Odogwu ☝️) (@Sports_Doctor2) November 17, 2023
Olowo kan, larin oloshi 99 will soon find himself as part of the later. Help those you can help, but do not let them pull you down. Stay strong to all the Mikel Obi’s just remember you always have to look out for yourself and youth can’t help everyone.
— Banks Omishore (@MrBanksOmishore) November 17, 2023
You don’t even need to be a footballer to relate with what Mikel Obi was saying, just have small money or let them find out you’ve travelled abroad. The billing culture and sense of entitlement in this part of the world is crazy, scary and exhausting.
— LERRY (@_AsiwajuLerry) November 17, 2023