Chelsea’s defensive midfielder, Lesley Ugochukwu says Mikel Obi has been one of the biggest influnces on his career.
The 19 year old who joined Chelsea in August this year and has made nine appearances in the Premier League is also proud of his Nigerian heritage as his parents are Nigerians and his uncle, Onyekachi Apam, a former Nigeria international player.
Ugochukwu says he could not help but be captivated by the performances of Mikel in a Chelsea and Nigeria shirt as he tried to understand the role of defensive midfielder better.
‘Most of the time when I saw him on television was the period with Mourinho,’ recalls Ugochukwu in an interview with Chelsea’s officla website.
‘It was a great period. He was such an important player for Chelsea. And when you come from Nigeria, the names of Jay-Jay Okocha and Obi Mikel always come out.
‘As a midfielder, what Mikel did for Chelsea inspired me a lot. He was calm. He had composure. He had self-confidence.
That’s very important for a midfielder, to give confidence to your team. He was strong without the ball, aggressive. That’s the kind of player I like. I want to have great achievements like he did.’
At work, Ugochukwu does not hesitate in saying his expectations have been matched, if not exceeded.
Now he is desperate to leave his mark on the club, just as some of those childhood heroes he loved watching did.
‘Chelsea is a big club, one of the best in the world, so I was expecting to come here with a lot of training pitches, and a good environment in the stadium.
That’s what I have been seeing. The crowd is nice, the Chelsea fans are always behind us. The training ground is massive.
‘I feel comfortable here and I’m very happy. Chelsea is a family club with a lot of honour and value. When you come and play for Chelsea you have to give everything you have to the team.
‘I feel like being a Chelsea player is an honour, and you come here to win trophies because that’s what Chelsea do. That’s the mindset you need. And that’s what I want.’