I Introduced Mikel To Chelsea – Ex Chelsea Youth Teamer Emma Sarki Reveals How Man Utd Lost Out On Mikel
Former Nigeria junior international Emma Sarki who now plays for the senior national team of Haiti has lifted the lid on the role he played in making his close friend John Obi Mikel join Chelsea instead of Manchester United.
Sarki made this known in an interview with The Athletic, where he claimed ex Chelsea Chief Executive Peter Kenyon told him to get in contact with Mikel who had trials at Manchester United when Kenyon was CEO at the Old Trafford side.
Peter Kenyon wanted to talk to me at his office in Chelsea. I had not realised Kenyon had joined from Manchester United (as chief executive) — Mikel always spoke about him wanting to sign him at United — but Kenyon said, ‘Manu, I hear you and John Mikel are best friends. Can you find out what is happening with him and if he would be interested in coming to Chelsea?’.
Mikel had trails at Manchester United where he impressed to the extent that the club legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson nicknamed him Obi Wan while then captain Roy Keane stood by him all through.
The former captain of the Super Eagles has since spoken publicly of the two month-long trials he undertook between those finals alongside his compatriot, the late Isaac Promise, at Manchester United. He trained with Sir Alex Ferguson’s first team, claimed Roy Keane acted as his “bodyguard” when the tackles were flying, and grew used to the manager addressing him as “Obi Wan”.
According to Sarki, Mikel felt unhappy after the trials with the club proposing to loan him to Belgium side Antwerp to further his development. It was at that stage that he got in touch with Mikel on the orders of Kenyon.
Sarki said Mikel jumped at the idea as at that time he was at Chelsea alongside the duo of Ezekiel Bala and Chinedu Obasi. Alongside Mikel they were all part of the Nigerian U17 team back then. That was the start of Mikel’s relationship with Chelsea which led to his famous decision to ditch a move to Man Utd despite signing a pre contract.
“Mikel and I were always very close. We knew each other’s families really well and were room-mates in the national team, so I rang him up back home in Nigeria and asked, ‘Bro, what’s going on? Why did you leave your trial at United?’.
“He told me about Antwerp in Belgium and how he didn’t want to go there, so I had to explain to him that he would not be able to sign a deal in England because we were all under 18. And, anyway, we would not qualify (for a work permit). ‘Without this, you cannot play here’. He had not understood that but I told him I was there in London with Bala and Edu, and that, if he wanted, he could come and do a trial here too. ‘Are you sure? Stop pulling my leg’. I said I wasn’t!
“They bought him a ticket and he came to us. We were like a happy family together, the four of us… so happy to see him. We started training all together then, soon after, we went to South Africa for a while to play for Ajax Cape Town. We destroyed the league. Absolutely destroyed it.”
Source: OwnGoal Nigeria
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