Former Super Eagles captain John Mikel Obi would still be playing football today if he had heeded the prudent advice of his old agent John Shittu and not joined Tianjin Teda in the Chinese Super League in 2017.
The Nigerian international joined the Chinese club on a free transfer for a rumoured weekly income of £140,000, but cancelled the contract a year before the agreement between him and the club was supposed to expire and returned to England to join Middlesbrough.
Shittu recently told journalists in Abuja that Mikel, who announced his retirement from professional football last year, would still be playing in England if he had heeded his advice against going to China.
He warned Nigerian players who are now doing well at their clubs not to fall victim to the tricks of a management or agency looking to cash in on them.
“My biggest advice is always to the players because they themselves are not very reliable, they want to cut corners.
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“Mikel and I had a lot of disagreements but in most cases I stood my ground with a lot of advice and that was why in Nigeria today he was a world class representative of this country. Though he has retired, you could see that a young boy has grown up to be a real man.
“Some of the players doing well now need to be careful, and not just jumping around. They shouldn’t feel because they are at the top now that they need to move. They should make sure everything is well thought out because we have seen a lot of players who are kings in their clubs and for one reason or the other the manager or agent wants to cash out quickly, remove them from the club to where they will become just ordinary players. Look at Eden Hazard today from Chelsea to Real Madrid. Does he need to move from Chelsea at that time he moved?
“Even my own player, Mikel Obi, when went to China, he was not supposed to go. I was against him moving to China and he could have possibly still been playing football in England till today,” Shittu said.
Mikel had also cautioned young players not to be lured to move to China because of the enormous money following his two-year tenure there.