Following Thursday’s announcement by Super Eagles captain, Mikel Obi, of his retirement from international football, tributes have continued to pour in for him, including from the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, the sport’s international governing body.
The 32- year-old midfielder made 89 appearances for his country between 2005 and 2019, scoring six times.
Paying tribute to the Nigerian legend, FIFA, on its Instagram page, said, “Super Eagles legend, Mikel Obi, who played at the 2014 and 2018 world cup finals – has announced his retirement from international football. Congrats on an amazing Nigeria career!
Others who also praised the footballer for his dedication to his career included famous Nigerian historian, Max Siollun, who said on Twitter, “Congrats to him on an excellent international career. He has been an excellent servant to Nigeria’s Super Eagles for over a decade. Played at World Cup, Olympics and won the AFCON. Not much left for him to do at the international level.”
“He received a call that his father had been kidnapped and still went on to play and represent Nigeria with everything he had. John Mikel Obi retires from the national team,” Oseni also said on Twitter.
In his tweet, praising the football legend, Collin O. said, “A legend and a patriot. John Mikel Obi has paid his dues. Happy retirement to the Nigerian maestro.”
Knoxtainment said, “For everything you have given to Nigeria and Nigerians, thank you, John Mikel Obi. Happy retirement from international football.”
Mikel, who has just signed for Trabzonspor in Turkey, had already told BBC Sport that the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt would be his last appearance on the continental showpiece event.
“At the age of 32, it’s time for me to retire from the national team and let the youth take over, (sic) who’ve done an amazing job securing a bronze medal at AFCON 2019,” he wrote on social media.
“Egypt is a country where I’ve started and have finished my national career. In 2006, I played my first official championship for my country. The 2019 African Cup of Nations marks my last championship for the national team with Super Eagles.”
His expected decision comes despite Coach Gernot Rohr saying Mikel could guide his young team for a few more years in their quest to reach the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
“My national career started in 2003 under 17 World Cup and I’m grateful to the national team for placing me on the world arena and giving me an opportunity to show my skills and have an incredible national and international career,” Mikel added.
“Thank you to all my Nigerian supporters and to my country for all the trust, support and love you’ve shown me over the past 15 years.”
Mikel played for Nigeria in the past two World Cups and helped the Super Eagles win the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations. He was part of the team that finished third at the 2006 and 2010 Nations Cups.
He made two appearances for Nigeria at the ongoing tournament in Egypt as the Super Eagles sealed a third-place finish on Wednesday.
A finalist with the youth side at the under-20 World Cup in 2005, the former Chelsea player won the silver ball as the tournament’s second-best player behind Argentina’s Lionel Messi.
He was also one of Nigeria’s three over-age players as the African side won a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, Brazil.