Former Super Eagles midfielder, John Obi Mikel, has highlighted the pressure most African footballers face after their breakthrough.
Mikel explains that when a footballer makes money, the family assumes ownership and entitlement of the success as they believe he owes it to them.
He said extended family members pop up from nowhere looking to be taken care of by the player.
Narrating a worst-case scenario on Vibe with FIVE podcast, he said the player’s sisters marry opportunists and go on to give birth to many kids, expecting the player will take of the children.
“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 indicated that his agent advised him to stop giving more than he should 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 players have 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.