Super Eagles’ Captain, John Obi Mikel, has dismissed reports that he was being victimized by Chelsea Manager, Antonio Conte, for deciding to play for Nigeria at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Prior to the Algerian clash, Technical Adviser, Gernot Rohr told journalist at a press conference that the 29-year-old was being punished at Stamford Bridge for his participation in the Olympics.
The Nigerian who has not played a single minute under new boss Antonio Conte at Chelsea, despite being a regular under interim coach, Guus Hiddink, last season, insisted that there is a mutual respect between Conte and himself.
“I’d like to clarify the recent media claims I have been punished by Chelsea FC for participating at the Rio 2016 Olympics are completely inaccurate,” Mikel said in a statement.
“Unfortunately, comments made by Gernot Rohr before yesterday’s 3-1 win over Algeria were both mistranslated and taken out of context by the Nigerian media, as English isn’t Mr. Rohr’s or much of the Nigerian media’s first language.
“To be absolutely clear, Mr. Conte and Chelsea were always fully supportive of my captaincy of the Nigerian team at Rio. The manager gave me his full blessing to participate at the Olympics, and even encouraged me to bring back the gold medal – something I spoke to the media about at the time.
“It goes without saying there is nothing but absolute respect between myself, the Nigerian national team and Chelsea FC, something that was demonstrated by Mr. Rohr’s recent visit to Cobham.
“My only focus now is on winning more silverware with Chelsea and getting Nigeria to the 2018 World Cup, two challenges I can’t wait to face in the coming months.”
Also reacting, Rohr said the media quoted him out of context.
According to the Franco-German tactician, “I was quoted out of context. Perhaps the word ‘punish’ might have come too strongly. But I meant it in a larger sense of the price he is paying for his participation in the Olympics.
“What I was trying to say was that we should all acknowledge the commitment of the team captain to the national team and the price that he might have had to pay, missing action for his club in the time he was in the Olympics.”