When you make money, it’s not yours,’ Mikel Obi reveals pressure on African footballers


Former Super Eagles and Chelsea legend, Mikel Obi has revealed the pressure most African footballers face when they have their breakthrough, saying, ‘When you make money, it’s not yours.’

The 36-year-old highlighted that the pressure to demand money often comes from the immediate and sometimes extended family, adding that most African footballers choose not to speak about it.

He made this known while appearing on the latest episode of Vibes with 5 podcast with Rio Ferdiannd.

His words: “We come from Africa, and this is something that I don’t think we 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.”

Speaking further, he stated that African footballers oftentimes cater for people beyond their immediate family.

He said, “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.”

Mikel revealed that he was in the same position until he decided to bring it to a halt about five years ago, on the advice of his agent.

His words: “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?”

Recall that former Arsenal and Togo forward, Emmanuel Adebayo, stated that he was left suicidal ‘many times’ by his maniplativ family and said, “They call me, not to ask how I am, but to demand money.”