John Mikel Obi has today moved to Chinese side Tianjin TEDA following 10-and-a-half years with Chelsea in which time he won every major club honour.
The 29-year-old is one of a select band of five foreign players in our history to have reached the 300-game landmark – alongside Chelsea greats Petr Cech, Didier Drogba, Branislav Ivanovic and Gianfranco Zola.
His finest moment came in 2012 in Munich, when his incredible discipline in midfield protected the defence and helped us to claim our first Champions League triumph.
Silverware was a regular theme of the Nigerian’s stay in west London. Mikel was Chelsea Young Player of the Year in his debut 2006/07 season, having arrived from Norwegian side Lyn Oslo. He ended that campaign with two winners' medals: the League Cup and FA Cup. He lifted the latter trophy four times in our colours.
Having learned the trade of defensive midfielder from one of the best in the business - Claude Makelele - Mikel gradually filled the boots of the old master and was a regular choice under a series of Chelsea managers. He won medals while working with Jose Mourinho, Guus Hiddink, Carlo Ancelotti, Roberto Di Matteo and Rafael Benitez.
Mikel played his part in two Premier League successes. The first in 2010, when he was the holding figure in a free-scoring side which won the Double. The second came five years later, when he continued to make important contributions and helped close out vital victories throughout the season. In the same campaign he added a second League Cup triumph.
His close-range volley against Fulham in September 2013 ended a goalless run dating back to January 2007. The uninhibited joy among his team-mates was mirrored by those in the Stamford Bridge stands, highlighting his cult status among fans.
On the international stage, Mikel captained Nigeria to African Nations glory in 2013 and led them in the Confederations Cup that summer. He again wore the armband at the Rio Olympics, guiding them to a historic bronze medal.
In total, Mikel played 372 times for Chelsea, scoring six goals. He leaves with our very best wishes and we thank him for his exceptional service.