Speaking from the U23 team’s camp in Atlanta, Georgia, Mikel told thenff.com: “First and foremost, I will say I am overwhelmed with this opportunity to be the captain of Team Nigeria to the Rio Olympics. This is the highest accolade you can ever have as a sportsman and it’s one I am really looking forward to.
“I am much pleased and very happy with myself for what I have been able to achieve, and grateful to the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports and the entire country for this opportunity.
“My objective is definitely going to be to carry everyone along. I think it’s important that we all work together, it’s important that we all set one goal, and that goal is to be successful, to win medals, to make sure we get gold medals. Our country has not done very well in recent times at the Olympics, so hopefully we can go to Rio and do well.”
On the burden his appointment has placed on him, Mikel who is also the captain of the Super Eagles said: “It’s massive, it’s big, it’s not just the football team. I am the captain of the Super Eagles. Sometimes you look at it and you think that’s a big burden, but this is even much bigger, it’s one that I am looking forward to.
“If you look at my track record at Chelsea, I have always played for the team, I have always been a team player, I have never been an individual player, so I think this is something I will be carrying into the Olympics and carry into Team Nigeria to make sure that we are successful.” He called on Nigerians to support the team and wish players and officials well.
On this being his first Olympics, the 29 –year old midfielder said: “I don’t think it will be a disadvantage. I think leadership is either you have it or you don’t. Sometimes, people grow into leadership and sometimes people are born with leadership qualities. I think I have always been in that leading role since my U-17 days, even when not wearing the captain’s band, I have always had people looking up to me to carry the team.”