Nigeria captain John Mikel Obi has revealed that former Chelsea manager Antonio Conte dropped him from his squad for opting to represent the country at the the 2016 Olympics In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, reports Completesports.com.
Mikel joined Chelsea in the winter of 2006, spending 10 seasons before leaving the club in January 2017 after dropping down the pecking order.
The 31-year-old led the Nigeria U23 side to third position at the 2016 Olympic Games.
Following his return from the tournament, the midfielder was frozen out of Conte’s squad, which made seek a greener pasture in the Chinese Super League with Tianjin Teda.
“For me, it was a decision I had to take because when the opportunity came up to either go to Rio or play for Chelsea,” Mikel told the NFF media.
“I decided that Victor Moses, who was the younger and hasn’t played yet for the club, should stay back while I go to the Olympics.
“Victor stayed back and I went but when I got back the manager never spoke to me again and did not even put me in the team, so I had to leave the club.
“For me, my commitment to play for the national team will never change until I stop playing.”
After a decent campaign with Middlesbrough in the second half of the 2018-19 season, Mikel has switched his attention to the Africa Cup of Nations, which starts in Egypt on June 21.
Nigeria are in Group B of the showpiece and they will begin their campaign for a fourth Afcon title against Burundi at the Alexandria Stadium on June 22.