Stoke City narrowly escaped being relegated to the third tier of English football last season, having finished Championship season in 15th place and just eight points clear of the relegation zone. However, the arrival of former Super Eagles captain, Mikel Obi, seems to have brought a renewed hope as the former Chelsea midfielder is not promising impacting a winning mentality to the Potters but a promotion to the Premier League
ormer Super Eagles team captain, John Mikel Obi, on Monday joined Stoke City on a one year deal making it his third English club after previous spells at Chelsea and Middlesbrough and Manager Michael O’Neill has revealed that the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations gold medalist has given him his words to end his football career in England.
“Hopefully, he can do that with Stoke City. I was really impressed with him when we met for the first time and he outlined what he wants from the next phase of his career. We spent four hours talking,” O’Neill said.
Obi on Monday signed for Stoke City as a free agent having left Turkish Super Lig side Trabzonspor by mutual consent in March which is believed to be due to speaking out against the club for going on with league fixtures in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic.
The former Chelsea midfielder has indeed stated he can impact a winning mentality onto Stoke City.
“I can bring that winning mentality into this team,” he said on the official Stoke City YouTube Channel.
“There is always a way to win, we need to find that way. That mentality needs to come into the team, it’s all about winning week in, week out, and that’s something I’ve done all my life at Chelsea and if I can bring that experience and winning mentality here, I’d be very happy.”
“It is good when you come into a football club having won so much in the game,” he said.
“The players can look up to me and will want to listen to me so now it comes down to myself and what advice I give to the players during the game, and at training, and how I can help them at difficult times. I am really looking forward to that,” he added.
Mikel also admits he shares the same ambition as Stoke which is a return to the Premier League which they last played in during the 2017-18 season when they went down with Swansea City and West Bromwich Albion.
“I’m excited. I’ve been talking with the club for a week, talking to the manager trying to know exactly what the ambition of the club is and also my ambition what I want to do as a player. My ambition and the club’s ambition seem to be pretty much the same,” he continued.
“I’m excited to see where we can go with this partnership, I’m here to help the club, get promoted, I think this club belongs to the Premier League, that’s where it should be.
“I’ve spoken to a few clubs, but after speaking to the manager, he told me what he wants and the ambition is something I want, I still want to win, achieve something and after talking to the manager I decided this is the right place for me to continue my career.”
Stoke makes it the second Championship club Mikel would play for having been with Middlesbrough between January and May 2019 and he believes his experience at the Riverside and his understanding of the Championship will make him prepared at Stoke.
“It was good, it was a lovely time at Middlesbrough. It was a good place for me to go and experience the Championship and that experience is what I’ll bring here. Now I know the game a little bit more, now I kind of know what to expect which is something I’m looking forward to,” Mikel said.
“I’ve always known it’s a difficult game against Championship teams it’s never an easy game, they are very physical, they never stop running and that’s something I knew before going to Boro and that’s exactly what I experienced and what I’m quite ready for.”
Despite having not played a competitive game in nearly five months, asserts he can always get his fitness up to speed.
“I’ve got like three to four weeks before the season starts, you don’t quite know where you will be, but I’ve been doing things right for the past five to six months at home trying to train, go to the gym, do bits here and there,” he said.
“It’s going to take a while but with my ambition and my goal of knowing where I want to be before the season starts, I should be there.”
The 33-year-old has never hidden his intention to continue playing football following his departure from Turkish side Trabzonspor.
“My goal is to continue playing football, and I hope I will have the opportunity, I do not reject any offers made to me, but rather study them well until I make the right decision.”
Following his departure from Stamford Bridge in January 2017, Mikel spent two seasons at Chinese side Tianjin Teda and half a season at Middlesbrough before he joined Trabzonspor last year and played a crucial role in helping the Black Sea Storm soar to the summit of the Super Lig after joining as a free agent on a two-year deal last summer.
He has been a free agent after his contract ended with Chinese side, Tianjin TEDA.
Trabzonspor was Mikel’s sixth club in his professional career which started at Nigerian side Plateau United, but it was at Chelsea that the midfielder enjoyed huge success winning two Premier League titles, three FA Cup trophies, a Football League title, the Champions League and Europa League.
The midfielder made 368 appearances for Chelsea between 2006 and 2017.
Mikel won a total of 89 caps for Nigeria, playing for them in the past two World Cups and helping the Super Eagles win the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, before announcing his retirement from international football last summer.
He was also one of Nigeria’s three over-age players as the African side won a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.