Former Nigerian international, Mikel Obi has disclosed that he fell out with former Chelsea manager, Antonio Conte because he represented Nigeria at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
Recall that Mikel was one of the squad’s permitted quota of three players over the age limit of 23.
He led Nigeria to win the Bronze medal after defeating Honduras in the Games men’s bronze medal football match at the Mineirao stadium in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, on August 20, 2016.
However, in a chat with Vibe with Five podcast, Mikel stated that Conte isolated him from the first team at Chelsea because he chose Nigeria ahead of Chelsea for the Olympic Games.
“Conte was the reason why I left [Chelsea]. Once he came in, he was like, ‘You’re not playing anymore.’ Then I left. Obviously, when I saw Conte coming into the club, I was like, ‘My time here is done.’
“The only reason is when he came in, me and Victor Moses and we got invited to the [Nigerian] national team for the Olympics. So, I had a conversation with the club and he [Conte] said, ‘If you go, you’re not playing anymore for the club. Because I’m a new manager, we need to think about the club.’
“And I was like, ‘You know what? I’ve been invited to represent the country at the Olympics.’ And he was like, ‘Yeah, but if you go just know that your time here is done.’
“So, I talked to Victor to stay back. I said, ‘I’ve been here a long time. I’ve won everything that I needed to win. You’re just coming, so you should stay.’ And he accepted. So, Victor stayed and I went. After the tournament when I came back, that was it. He [Conte] never spoke to me. He sent me to the reserve team. I was training with the reserves. Then I started training alone for a while. For like six months I did this.”