Super Eagles captain Mikel Obi has claimed Lionel Messi “stole” the Golden Ball award from him at the 2005 FIFA U-20 World Cup held in the Netherlands.
The Flying Eagles faced Argentina in the final but lost 2-1 courtesy of two penalties converted by Messi as Chinedu Ogbuke scored Nigeria’s only goal.
Going into the final, Mikel was tipped to be awarded the Golden Ball for his impressive performances all through the competition.
Mikel in an interview with The Guardian reflected how he missed out on the Most Valuable Player award.
”Yeah, Messi stole the Golden Ball off me,” Mikel said. “Before the game people said that I was going to win the Golden Ball for being the player of the tournament. “But then Messi scored twice, both of them penalties, Argentina won 2-1 and I got the Silver Ball.
Messi has kept on stealing awards from me!” The former Chelsea ace recalled how the Super Eagles were able to beat Argentina 4-2 in last year’s friendly without Messi, positing the South Americans powerhouse always struggle without their talisman.
The former Chelsea ace recalled how the Super Eagles were able to beat Argentina 4-2 in last year’s friendly without Messi, positing the South Americans powerhouse always struggle without their talisman.
“A certain human being wasn’t playing (in last year’s friendly),” Mikel says. “Actually, is he even a human being? Messi is Messi. He decides games and the last time we met he scored two against us at the Brazil World Cup.
“Without him, they are definitely less of a team. We can’t put all our attention on Messi but he is the man that we need to stop. Do we have to put somebody to mark him? Maybe yes, maybe no because when you do that you are playing with less balance.”
The 33-year-old also spoke about playing in different midfield positions during his time at Chelsea and for the national team.
“I was playing as a No 10 before I went to Chelsea but [José] Mourinho converted me to a holding player,” Mikel told The Guardian. “I enjoy it. When I was at Chelsea and there was a national team break, I’d go there and I’d enjoy it. I’d have this one or two weeks of freedom – to express myself and play the way I want. But at Chelsea, I did a job.”