Former Super Eagles and Chelsea player, Mikel Obi has disclosed the pressure that many African footballers experience upon achieving success.
The 36-year-old underscored that the pressure to seek financial assistance frequently arises from both immediate and extended family members.
He noted that many African footballers opt to remain silent about this aspect of their experiences.
Mikel, who was one of the strong parts of the 2011–12 UEFA Champions League winning side with Chelsea, led this out on a podcast with ‘Vibe With 5’.
He said: “We come from Africa, and this is something that we don’t speak a lot about. When you make money, it’s not your money. You have all these relatives, cousins, and others asking for money.
“Then your sisters get married to some guy who just wants to get married into John Obi Mikel’s family because then “my life is sorted”. You send money to your sister; the money goes to him, and he does whatever he does with it. This is something nobody knows about.”
“So you get your salary, and you put some aside for this person; put this aside for that person; put this aside for mom and dad. Before you know it, where is it? You get nothing.”
He stated that African footballers often cater to people beyond their immediate family.
“They keep having so many kids, and you look at it and ask the question, “You have this many kids; who is going to look after them?” Then you realise it’s you. They look out for you to look after the kids, the husband, and the husband’s family.
“And it becomes really and absolutely crazy. For them, you owe them that; that is the culture. I was talking to Osimhen the other day, and he said the same thing.”
“So sometimes you have to be strong and say enough is enough. I don’t care. For me, that was five years ago; I say no more because I’ve been doing this since I started playing football.
“The reaction is that you become the bad guy. They stop answering your phone calls. They don’t call you to ask about you; they only call to ask for money.
“My agent told me, ‘Mikel, you can’t be doing this. You’re killing yourself, and you’re killing them. Because all you do is give them, and they get so comfortable that they expect you to do that for the rest of your life. And I came to that point five years ago, where I stopped.”
“They will give you this thing, whereby if you don’t do it, they say, “We’re going to the press.” What? After all that I’ve done for you guys?”