Former Super Eagles midfielder, John Obi Mikel, has underscored the significant pressure experienced by many African footballers after achieving success.
Mikel elucidates that once a footballer attains financial prosperity, the family often assumes a sense of ownership and entitlement to that success, believing that the player owes it to them.
He goes on to explain that extended family members suddenly emerge, seeking financial support from the player.
Mikel, while discussing a worst-case scenario on Vibe with 5, details how some players’ sisters may marry opportunists who expect the player to bear the responsibility of caring for the entire extended family, including the children born from such marriages.
“When 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…whatever you call it. And your sisters, they get married to some guy who just wants to get married into the 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, you say okay, now I’m going to put this aside for this person, put this aside for that person, put this for mum and dad. Before you know it, where is it? You get nothing.”
“And they keep having so many kids and so many kids and you look at it…Okay, you are having this much kids who is going to look after them? It’s you. They look out to you for you to look after the kids, husband, and the husband’s family. And it becomes really and absolutely crazy. For them, you owe them that.”
Mikel revealed that he was in the same position until he decided to bring it to a halt about five years ago.
“So sometimes you have to be strong and say you know what guys enough is enough. I don’t care. For me that was five years ago, I said F it, no more. Because I’ve been doing this since I started playing football.”
“The reaction is you become the bad guy. They stop answering your phone calls,” he added.
He mentioned receiving advice from his agent to cease overdonating to the family.
“My agent told me ‘Mikel you can’t be doing this. You killing yourself and you 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.”
The Chelsea legend added that, when the player finally has the guts to say they have had enough, the family threatens to go to the media.
“They will give you this thing whereby if you don’t do it we going go to the press. What? After all that I’ve done for you guys?”
John Mikel Obi made the statement while discussing money management as an African footballer, who is often focused on family, notably extended family.