‘He was the one that really helped me’ – Mikel Obi pays tribute to Chelsea legend

Michael Essien Mikel Obi and Didier Drogba
Photo; Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Former Chelsea midfielder John Mikel Obi has hailed former Blues midfielder Michael Essien for helping him settle at Chelsea.

Mikel was signed as a sensational teenager back in 2006, as Chelsea had to hijack the deal from Manchester United.

Essien had been signed a year earlier as an experienced midfielder from Lyon.

Stepping into a star-studded team that had the likes of Frank Lampard, John Terry, Claude Makelele and Didier Drogba, it had to take Michael Essien to carry along the star-struck Mikel Obi.

Mikel told Goal: “When I first came to Chelsea, I was surprised I was sharing a dressing room with all these players I had watched on television back in Africa.

“I was sitting next to Lassana Diarra. I’d be there thinking, ‘Oh my God, it’s Didier Drogba. It’s Frank Lampard. It’s John Terry’.

“Michael Essien really helped me settle in. Michael always told me I was a good player and just reminded me to ‘bring the ball down, control and pass.

“If you need to dribble, dribble. If you don’t need to, just pass. You are strong. You are fast, too. If you can, just push the ball past and run, run, run because they cannot catch you.

“He was the guy who really helped me and made me have a lot of confidence.”

Mikel left Chelsea in 2017 after 11 years at the club.

The former Blues midfielder would go on to feature in over 300 games for Chelsea. He is remarkably one of the heroes that helped Chelsea win a first ever Champions League title in 2012.