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Nigeria captain John Mikel Obi quits international football

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Nigeria captain John Mikel Obi announced his international retirement following Wednesday’s third-place playoff win over Tunisia in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).

Mikel has been an integral member of the Nigeria team since debuting in a 1–0 friendly win over Libya in August 2005. He’s since made a further 88 appearances, while providing six goals and 12 assists.

The former Chelsea midfielder represented Nigeria in two World Cups, which included last summer’s one in Russia, and was a member of the team that won the AFCON in 2013.

Hopes of adding another AFCON title to his cabinet, however, ended last weekend when the Super Eagles fell to a 2-1 defeat to Algeria in the semi-finals.

Now, Mikel has decided to end his Nigeria days as he prepares to embark on the next chapter of his career at Turkish side Trabzonspor.

“At the age of 32 it’s time for me to retire from the national team and let the youth take over, (sic) who’ve done an amazing job securing a bronze medal at AFCON 2019,” he wrote on Instagram.

“Egypt is a country where I’ve started and have finished my national career. In 2006 I played my first official championship for my country.

“The 2019 African Cup of Nations marks my last championship for the national team with Super Eagles.”

Prior to starting his senior international career, Mikel was a finalist in the under-20 World Cup in 2005 with Nigeria. He ended up finishing as the competition’s second-best player behind a teenage Lionel Messi.

He added: “My national career started in 2003 under 17 World Cup and I’m grateful for the national team for placing me on the world arena and giving me an opportunity to show my skill and have an incredible National and International career.

“Thank you to all my Nigerian supporters and to my country for all the trust, support and love you’ve shown me over the past 15 years.”

Striker Odion Ighalo is another member of the Nigerian national team who could call it a day soon.

SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA – JUNE 26: Lionel Messi of Argentina holds off John Obi Mikel of Nigeria during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group D match between Nigeria and Argentina at Saint Petersburg Stadium on June 26, 2018 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)