Mikel: With experience comes responsibility

In terms of senior players at Chelsea Football Club, it is now just John Terry and Petr Cech that can say they have spent longer in SW6 than John Mikel Obi.

Of course, Didier Drogba did initially sign for the Blues two years before Mikel but, having been away for a couple of years, the West African pair will both be beginning their ninth campaign at Stamford Bridge.

As he sits down with the official Chelsea website at the conclusion of our European training camp, Mikel discusses the return of his Ivorian friend. He starts, though, by explaining the role he and the other senior players can play in helping a squad that has changed substantially in the last couple of years.

‘I’ve been in this team for a long time now,’ he says. ‘I came when I was 18 and I’m 27 now. Time flies.

‘I’ve seen the good times and I’ve enjoyed the good times with this team. At the same time I’ve shared bad times with the likes of John Terry and Petr Cech. There have been lots of good times in the nine years I’ve been here. Whenever there was a bad one we’ve always come together as a team and we’ve always managed to turn it around.

‘The character and the belief that we have in this team, from the players that have been here a long time, I’m sure that will transform into the new players. It’s always a big pressure playing for this club. You always expect to win trophies every year so I’m sure the new players that have come in will help us win more trophies.

‘They will know what representing this team is all about. Wearing the blue shirt and representing Chelsea is a privilege. I’m sure they will learn from us and we will be able to teach them one or two things.’

Drogba is unquestionably one of those who can help our latest recruits adapt to the Chelsea philosophy. But not just that, the forward still has a vital part to play on the pitch, according to Mikel.

‘I heard the rumours but I thought there was no way it was going to happen. I thought when he’s gone, he’s gone. But then I thought about it a bit more and I realised it could happen because of the connection that the gaffer and Didier have always had.

‘I’m glad to have him back. It’s like his home. He’s fitting in perfectly well again. It’s like he never went away. It’s good for the team because he’s a big player and a big personality.

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‘It’s a shame we lost Frank and Ash - two big personalities and two big players – but Didier is back. I think we need a bit of his personality and his physicality in the Premier League, too. He can offer that.

‘He stills gets respect from everybody in the dressing room: the older guys, the younger players, everybody. We are all glad to have him back.’

Like Drogba Mikel joined up with his team-mates on Monday, his return to pre-season delayed by his involvement at his first World Cup. He is pleased Nigeria were able to qualify from the group stage for the first time since 1998, and he believes the Super Eagles can take a number of positives from the tournament in Brazil.

Now he has returned to club duty the midfielder is already anticipating the start of the Premier League season. His mind is focused on one target in particular.

‘It’s been five or six days now I’ve been training,’ Mikel reports. ‘I’m getting back up to speed. Training is going very well. It’s been tough but you need this to have a good pre-season, and then we can look forward to the season.

‘Hopefully it will be a very successful one for the team. Everyone wants to achieve something. We want to win trophies. We didn’t do that last season but this season we are all hoping we can have a good season and win some trophies.’

 

By Rupert Cane