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Mikel Obi, former Super Eagles captain, has claimed that he was robbed of the 2013 African Player of the Year award by the Confederation of African Football, CAF.
Mikel was the star performer for Nigeria during the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa as he helped his country clinch the tournament.
No Nigerian has won the African Player of the Year award since 1999, when Kanu Kwankwo won the honour ahead of Ghanaian defender, Samuel Kuffour following his impressive form in front of goal for Arsenal.
Since then, no Nigerian footballer has gone home with the accolade but only Austin Okocha (twice, in 2003 and 2004) and Mikel Obi (in 2003) were among the final three nominees before losing to Samuel Eto’o and Yaya Toure.
Speaking on the award, Mikel in a YouTube interview with Dubai Eye 103.8 said, “I was robbed, mate.
“Before I went, I was told that I won it. I was at the airport flying to Nigeria, because the ceremony was in Nigeria, and guess what happened? Manchester City was playing, and Yaya scored a hat-trick or two goals.”
The former Chelsea midfielder also disclosed that former Manchester United coach, Sir Alex Ferguson still ignores him after he chose not to join Manchester United in 2005.
Ferguson thought he had signed the young Nigerian after he put pen to paper on a deal for United from Lyn Oslo in April 2005, but the transfer didn’t materialize after Mikel claimed that he was ‘bullied’ into the deal and wished to join Chelsea instead.
Mikel added, “Fergie blanked me for years.
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“First time we played in the FA Cup he shunned me walking out of the tunnel. I stumbled and almost fell. Each time we met he blanked me but I have no regrets signing for Chelsea.
“Obviously, I signed a pre-contract with Manchester United, but before that, I was playing for Lyn Oslo in Norway. Chelsea actually sent me to Lyn Oslo and nobody knew this.
“Chelsea was looking after me, and my family, giving me bits here and there and they were paying my school fees when I was in Norway.
“I had my trials at Manchester United before I went to Chelsea. Sir Alex Ferguson loved me and all the players loved me. Roy Keane was my biggest fan. He told Ferguson he needed to sign me. He was my protector in training.
“Whenever I got tackles in training from the likes of Paul Scholes and Nikky Butt in training, Keane was ready to get in with them.
“They heard I joined Chelsea and Fergie flew into Norway and handed me a pre-contract to sign and I could not say no. And the whole thing went viral.”