“I’ll single him out as my best” – Mikel snubs Mourinho, names his number one Chelsea manager

Widely regarded as one of the finest football managers in the game, the current AS Roma manager worked together with the former Nigerian international at Stamford Bridge for several years

2013 Africa Cup of Nations winner John Obi Mikel has refused to name AS Roma boss Jose Mourinho among the managers that got the best out of him during his decade-long stay at Chelsea.

Instead, the former Super Eagles hero has reserved kind words for Real Madrid boss Carlos Ancelotti and Dutchman Guus Hiddink.

Mikel is, however, clear that Italian tactician Roberto Di Matteo is the number one manager he played under while at Stamford Bridge.

One of the most successful Chelsea managers of all time, Mourinho coached Mikel twice at Chelsea.

The Portuguese manager received the Nigerian midfielder when he arrived from Norway’s Lyn Oslo in 2006, but the ex-Porto boss left the Blues the following year.

Mourinho returned to Chelsea in 2013 and worked with Mikel for another two years, winning the Premier League in 2015.

Mikel eventually departed Stamford Bridge in 2017 after 372 appearances for the Blues and numerous domestic and continental honours.

But his most memorable achievement was lifting Chelsea’s first-ever UEFA Champions League trophy in 2012 under the guidance of Roberto Di Matteo.

The Italian gaffer only spent one year managing the Blues, but Mikel insists it was enough to get the best out of him.

“At Chelsea, Di Matteo really understood me,” Mikel told ThisDay.

“And that was why in 2012, I had my best moments with the club because he gave me the freedom to play to express who I am on the pitch.

“And the same thing with Carlos Ancelotti because I played a lot of games under him. He gave me the license to do whatever I can do to make the team strong in the middle just like Guus Hiddink, but in all of them, I will single out Di Mateo as my best.”

While at Chelsea, Mikel was named the Chelsea Young Player of the Year twice (in 2007 and 2008) and was a runner-up for the 2013 African Footballer of the Year award.

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