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AFCON 2019: Mikel opens up on retirement rumour

Ephraim Nwosu

Super Eagles captain, John Mikel Obi, has declared that the 2019 African Cup of Nations will be his last major outing for the country, dismissing rumours that he may quit unceremoniously before the tournament.

The former Chelsea midfielder now with Chinese giants, Tianjin TEDA, told The Nigerian Xpress Sports exclusively during his recent visit to Lagos that he would bow out after the biannual African football fiesta.

“Forget all you’ve been hearing. You never can tell because in football anything can happen; but that notwithstanding, I would want to quit after next year’s Nations Cup.

“Honestly, its time to give the younger players opportunity to show what they can equally do for our fatherland. I’ve served the nation with the highest degree of devotion and dedication and my mind is made up…By God’s grace, I don’t know where the Nations Cup would now hold but wherever it holds, that would be my last port of call and I pray it ends on a glorious note,” Mikel said.

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Mikel, it would be recalled, was named Super Eagles captain in 2014 by erstwhile coach, Samson Siasia, as replacement for Vincent Enyeama after the goalkeeper announced his retirement from international football.

Mikel, 31, was given his first cap for Nigeria on August 17,2005 when he came on as a second half substitute in a 1-0 friendly win over Libya.

He has made 85 appearances since then, netting six goals. The one time Lyn Oslo of Norway ace had represented Nigeria in four AFCON’s (2006,2008,2010 and 2013) and was a key member of the team that won the title in 2013 in South Africa.