Nigeria’s Super Eagles captain Mikel John Obi has retired from international football after leading the country to third place at African Cup of Nations in Egypt.
“At the age of 32 it’s time for me to retire from the National team and let the youth take over, who’ve done an amazing job securing a bronze medal at AFCON 2019,” Mikel said on Thursday.
Mikel played his first competitive match for the Super Eagles in Egypt against Zimbabwe and he has decided to call it quit in the same country to “let the youth take over”.
Mikel played two Fifa World Cup tournaments for Nigeria and four Africa Cup of Nations competitions where he won the title in 2013 and a bronze medal in 2019.
In 2005, Mikel represented the Nigeria under-20 team at the FIFA World Youth Championship and won the Silver Ball for the second-best player at the tournament behind Lionel Messi as Nigeria finished as runner-up to Argentina.
He made his debut for the Nigeria senior team on 17 August 2005, when he came on as a second-half substitute in a 1–0 friendly win over Libya.
He featured in the 2006 AFCON hosted by Egypt as he was introduced into the second game against Zimbabwe. He made his first international start in Nigeria’s final group game, a 2–1 victory over Senegal.
He was suspended from all Nigerian national teams in 2007 after he refused to play for the the Nigerian under-23 side because of injury, but his refusal resulted in his suspension by the Nigeria Football Federation. He apologised an was called up to the national squad for the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations in Ghana where he scored a scored one goal.
Mikel missed the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa due to injury but was at the 2013 AFCON and was instrumental in the tournament as Nigeria won the continent premier title the third time.
He was named by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) in the team of the tournament alongside teammates Vincent Enyeama, Efe Ambrose, Victor Moses and Emmanuel Emenike.
In 2014, Mikel made his first appearance at the FIFA World Cup tournament in Brazil.
He featured in the 2016 Olympics where he scored his first ever Olympic goal in a 2–0 win against Denmark to advance to the semi-final. Nigeria lost to Germany in the semi-final but won the bronze medal at the expense of Honduras.
Mikel scored in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification match against Algeria.
Sharing a photo of himself in the national jersey, Mikel Obi wrote, “Egypt is a country where I’ve started and have finished my national career.