Michael Essien really helped me build my confidence at Chelsea – Mikel Obi

Ex-Nigeria captain John Obi Mikel has credited Michael Essien as the teammate who helped him settle when he first arrived at Chelsea.

Michael Essien really helped me build my confidence at Chelsea – Mikel Obi

The defensive midfielder completed a dream move to Stamford Bridge in the summer of 2006 following a transfer tug of war between the Blues and Manchester United.

Mikel went on to become a key member of Jose Mourinho’s side and spent almost a decade at the club, where he won multiple Premier League and FA Cup titles as well as the UEFA Champions League.

Opening up on his early days at the club, the 34-year-old said he was initially starstruck by the calibre of teammates he met at Chelsea.

He, however, noted that Ghanaian counterpart Essien took the responsibility of helping him to settle and to build his confidence on the pitch.

"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'."

He added: "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."

Mikel currently plays for Kuwaiti topflight side Kuwait SC, having joined the club in July.

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