ABUJA, July 18 (Xinhua) -- Captain of Nigeria's Super Eagles, John Obi Mikel, on Thursday called it quits with his international football career, 16 years after he got the first call up to the country's U17 team.
Mikel, 32, announced his retirement from international football a day after Nigeria won the bronze medal at the ongoing African Cup Of Nations (AFCON) tournament in Egypt.
He played his first official championship as a Super Eagles player in Egypt at AFCON 2006 and called it quit at the same location during AFCON 2019. The midfielder himself expressed satisfaction at his 13-year stint with the Super Eagles in a statement he posted on his verified Instagram handle.
"Egypt is a country where I've started and have finished my national career. In 2006, I played my first official championship for my country. 2019 African Cup of Nations marks my last championship for national team with Super Eagles," he wrote. "My national career started in 2003 Under 17 World Cup, and I'm grateful for the national team for placing me on the world arena and giving me an opportunity to show my skill and have an incredible national and international career."
The player, who appeared twice during group games of the Super Eagles at the ongoing AFCON, said he chose to retire from the national team to pave way for younger players who had "an amazing job securing a bronze medal at AFCON 2019" to take the stage.
Mikel represented the Nigeria U20 team at the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship and won the Silver Ball for the second-best player at the tournament, behind Lionel Messi, as the Africans finished runner-up to Argentina.
He left English premiership club Chelsea in 2017, after spending about 11 years with the current Europa League champions.
On January 6, 2017, Chinese club Tianjin TEDA signed Mikel by free transfer from Chelsea.
After two years in China, Mikel joined English Championship team Middlesbrough on a short-term deal in the 2019 winter transfer window. He was released by Middlesbrough at the end of the 2018-19 season.
He has now joined Trabzonspor on a two-year contract with the option of a further year.