John Obi Mikel: Why African footballers struggle financially despite success in Europe


Former Nigeria and Chelsea midfield maestro John Mikel Obi has shed light on the financial challenges faced by African players abroad despite earning substantial wages.

The ex-Super Eagles captain attributes the struggles to the substantial family responsibilities placed on footballers.

Having dedicated over a decade to Chelsea, Mikel Obi stands out as one of the most successful African players in the English Premier League.

During a conversation with former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand and his FIVE UK crew, Mikel revealed how family members can quickly turn to the media if financial assistance is not provided.

Mikel expressed the unique pressure faced by African players, stating, “You get threatened by your own blood.”

He emphasized that in African cultures, when a player earns money, it is often perceived as communal wealth rather than personal income.

Relatives, cousins, and sisters often approach players with the expectation of financial support, complicating their financial landscape.

The midfielder recounted instances where family members would marry into his family, anticipating financial stability.

This placed the player in a position where he felt obligated to support extended family members, sometimes to the point of emotional manipulation and threats of going to the press if assistance wasn’t provided.

Mikel shared his personal decision to establish boundaries about five years ago, recognizing the need to break the cycle of constant financial assistance.

He acknowledged the difficulty of being perceived as the “bad guy” when players decide to stop providing financial aid. Mikel stressed the importance of players standing firm and being emotionally resilient in the face of familial expectations.

Despite Mikel’s successful stints with Middlesbrough and Stoke City in England, as well as experiences in Turkey and China, he highlights the significant emotional toll and challenges that African players encounter when managing financial expectations from their extended families.

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