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Nigeria captain Mikel Obi has insisted that he stands by his decision to represent his country at the Rio 2016 Olympics instead of parcitipating in Chelsea’s pre-season with new manager Antonio Conte.
The 29-year-old also asserts that his place in Chelsea’s history is assured after his long, trophy-laden service to the English club.
“I’m not a guy who makes excuses in life,” Mikel, who is yet to feature for Chelsea under Conte, said in a BBC World Football interview monitored by Completesportsnigeria.com on Friday.
“I never make excuses. I never shy away from my responsibilities. Yes, maybe people would say maybe I lost my place at Chelsea because I went to the Olympics, I didn’t have pre-season with the team, a new manager was coming in and was probably upset that I left for the Olympics, and probably thinks I don’t care about the team.
But I don’t want to use those excuses, I want to keep training hard and make sure I change the manager’s mind. But if it doesn’t happen, then it doesn’t happen.
“I’ll keep doing my best and be ready for whenever I’m called upon. Let’s see what happens in January. I have to remain professional. I keep training and working hard, hoping that one day I’ll get to play.”
Mikel, who captained the Nigeria U-23s to bronze in Rio in August as one of the three allowed overage players, says his medal is a prized possession he will forever cherish.
“I wouldn’t trade my Olympic bronze for a place in the Chelsea team,” he said. “As a man, when you make a sacrifice, you have to deal with it, you have to face it like a man, you have to stand by your decision. You have to live with your decision because it’s your decision.
“I have no regrets at all, not one single regret for going to the Olympics and I’d not trade my medal for anything. I deserved it, I worked so hard for it, so why would I trade it for something else?”
Mikel, who joined Chelsea in 2006 after a protracted transfer wrangle that involved Manchester United, remains proud of his time at Stamford Bridge despite not playing a single minute this season and is not fazed by the likelihood of a January exit.
“I’ve been part of the best years at the club, I’ve enjoyed the best part of the club,” he added.
“I was there when we won our first ever Champions League title. I played in the final and I was the man of the match in that final.
“I’ve written my name in the history books of Chelsea. I’ve won loads and loads of trophies, I’ve played close to 400 games for this club.
“I have no single regret, I’ve done it all. But as a player you’re still hungry, you still want to win more with the club. If that’s the way it ends (leaving in January) then that’s it. Players move on. In life you move on. I’m very relaxed about the January transfer window. I’ll speak to the club and we’ll find the best solution.”
When asked why he did not leave Chelsea in the summer despite several reported offers, Mikel replied: “I went to the Olympics and there was no communication about what the situation was, then the transfer window ended.
“The club didn’t tell me to leave, I didn’t get anything from the club. I have one year left so I decided I didn’t want to leave just like that because I’ve been here for a while, 11 years now. It’s good sometimes to leave when you know you’ve finished your contract and your business there is done.”