Nigerian footballer Mikel Obi says he is eternally grateful to his former Chelsea mate Michael Essien for helping him to succeed at the club.
Mikel in an interview with Athletic stated that he was nervous and lacked confidence when he first joined Chelsea in 2006, and it was his West African colleague who inspired him to reach his potential.
According to him, seeing the top star he grew up watching on TV made him nervous and kinda belittle himself but Essien always reminded him that he was a good player.
“Suddenly, I was sharing a dressing room with all these players I had watched on television back in Africa,” Mikel told The Athletic.
“I was sitting next to Lassana Diarra. I’d be there thinking, ‘Oh my God, it’s Didier Drogba. It’s Frank Lampard. It’s John Terry’.
“Michael Essien (who joined from Lyon in the summer of 2005) really helped me. Michael always told me I was a good player and just reminded me to bring the ball down, control and pass.
“If you need to dribble, dribble. If you don’t need to, just pass. You are strong. You are fast, too. If you can, just push the ball past and run, run, run because they cannot catch you.
‘”He was the guy who really helped me and made me have a lot of confidence,” he added.