Prior to his return to European football, Mikel had spent two years with Chinese Super League side, Tianjin TEDA, where he was on a class of his own due to the poor standard of football in the league.
His clear lack of proper football and classic championship training caused the player’s ability to wane until he was a shadow of the former genius midfielder we all loved.
The right fit
Many had expected the Nigerian to remain in China until his retirement, however, Mikel opted to return to Europe for a fresh start with Boro.
After weeks of beautiful play at Boro, Mikel has finally revealed the reason he decided to make a return to European football.
“The pitches were poor, stadiums are poor, and the medical facilities were not what I was used to. I’m not saying it’s all the Chinese clubs, some of them are quite professional, but the one I was at, it wasn’t as professional as it should have been. It became tough for me almost straight away.
“I wouldn’t say I regretted it, I had a good time with my team-mates, but it was never easy. The standard of football, it’s not even Championship standard. I realised that very quickly. It’s a league that wants to grow, they are putting a lot of money in, but it is a long way behind.”
The player also admitted that his family is also a major reason he returned to Europe, and he is very happy to have found home with Boro.
Featured image source: AOIFOOTBALL.COM