John Obi Mikel has not been and never will be a name on the Ballon D’Or shortlist.
He’ll never feature in an everyday fan’s dream team and he likely didn’t make the cut on too many Fantasy Football lineups over the last decade either.
But to one set of fans, the midfield enforcer will remain forever beloved for his quiet, workmanlike exploits.
As star names like Fernando Torres, Deco and Kevin De Bruyne have come and gone at Chelsea, the now 29-year-old remained, constant and always dependable when called upon.
He provided the perfect foil at the base of the London club’s midfield for the countless star names that racked up goals and assists up top, never seeking the recognition that he deserved.
Rarely flashy and never extravagant, Mikel may have only managed a solitary goal in 249 appearances for the Blues, but that doesn’t mean that he wasn’t an integral part of their success.
Winning anything and everything possible at club level over the past decade, recent years have seen the influence of the Nigerian diminish significantly.
However, one thing that has never waded is the appreciation of Chelsea’s supporters for their hard-tackling African.
After today’s announcement that Mikel had become the latest big name to swap European football for the riches of the Chinese Super League, droves of fans of the London club have taken to social media to pay homage to their perennial unsung hero.
Say what you like about him but John Obi Mikel is a Chelsea legend.
— SimplyConte (@SimplyConte) January 6, 2017
— FanDuel (@FanDuelUK) January 6, 2017
Mikel’s decision to wind down his career with Tianjin TEDA should not be viewed as a mercenary move or an act of greed.
The Nigerian is not Oscar and he is not Axel Witsel, two relatively young players who could have made moves to other European heavyweights and fought for titles for years to come.
Mikel will be 30 in April, his powers are on the wane and he has won everything from the Premier League to the Champions League.
He has been there, done that, and has earned his Chinese payday through ten years of hard work and model professionalism.