Former Chelsea midfielder Mikel John Obi has shed light on the financial challenges experienced by African players abroad, even with substantial incomes.
The former skipper of the Super Eagles captain attributed these struggles to the heavy family burdens that footballers often face.
During a candid conversation with former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand and his FIVE UK crew, Mikel Obi highlighted the significant role family dynamics play in the financial hardships of African players.
He shared insights into the pressure exerted by relatives who expect financial support, often resorting to the media if their demands are not met.
“You get threatened by your own blood,” Mikel expressed, adding, “When you come from Africa, and this is something we don’t talk about a lot. When you make money, it is not your money.”
Mikel Obi, who spent over a decade at Chelsea and played for other English clubs like Middlesbrough and Stoke City, emphasised how family members, including relatives and sisters, often expect financial assistance. He described a cycle where the player is burdened with responsibilities, including supporting relatives’ marriages and children.
“They just marry someone who wants to marry into John Obi Mikel’s family because then my life is sorted,” Mikel explained. “Then you start looking after this guy before you know, they are having so many kids, and you are looking at them like? It’s you! So you owe them now. Then they give you this thing that, if you don’t sort us out, we go to the press.”
Mikel Obi retired from professional football in 2022 after nearly two decades in the sport having won several honours with both Nigeria and Chelsea.