Mikel at his Chinese club Tianjin Teda
Monday Nov 27, 2017. 10:00
With Nigeria captain John Obi Mikel no doubt looking forward to learning his side’s group stage opponents for the 2018 World Cup when the draw is held this coming Friday, he has been criticised by the founder of an academy he attended as a youngster.
Former Nigeria Football Federation technical director Kashimawo Laloko, who founded the Pepsi Football Academy at Agege Stadium in Lagos, believes Mikel – a product of the institution – has not done enough to give back to the youth in Nigerian football.
“Mikel was brought to limelight through our Jos centre around 1995 to 2002. We gave him the breakthrough that made Nigerians to know him,” Laloko is quoted by the Vanguard.
“He was unpolished when he came but we refined him. If not for us, maybe, he would not be where he is today but since he became a star, I have not heard that he visited the Jos centre to donate a pair of jersey to the players there. That is most unfair.
“Some former players give us money for the running of the centres but Mikel has not done such. Osaze is an example of a player who paid us because he recognised what we did for him.
“There was a time we wanted to use Mikel in a advertising campaign for the academy but he shunned us. His agent was asking us to pay a huge sum of money but Mr. Nelson could not believe it and that was how the deal fell through. I don’t think Mikel has done well for Nigerian youths.”
With Mikel currently enjoying the off season, following the completion of the Chinese Super League’s 2017 campaign earlier this month, perhaps he’ll make time to give back to those who helped his rise in the game.