Football News

Ex-Chelsea midfielder John Mikel Obi leaves Trabzonspor as Turkish football plays on through coronavirus outbreak

By Chris Smith

Published: 10:40, 18 March 2020

John Mikel Obi has terminated his contract with Turkish Super Lig leaders Trabzonspor by mutual consent, days after criticising the country’s decision not to suspend matches due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

The majority of world football – and sport in general – has come to a halt as COVID-19 continues to gather pace around the globe, resulting in this summer’s European Championships being postponed until 2021.

Why has Mikel left Trabzonspor? Five things to know…

  • Coronavirus has resulted in the majority of world football and other sports being put on hold.
  • However, the Turkish Super Lig remains one of the last remaining global leagues still playing.
  • Trabzonspor sit joint-top of table alongside Istanbul Başakşehir.
  • But Mikel has quit the club over fears of COVID-19, saying “there is more to life than football”.
  • The midfielder has forfeited all future payments from Trabzonspor as a result.


Football in Turkey carries on behind closed doors despite the Russian and Ukrainian Premier Leagues becoming the latest to put a hold to their activities.

And Mikel – who won eight major trophies with Chelsea between 2006 and 2017 – has now called time on his spell with league leaders Trabzonspor, clearly uncomfortable with the situation in Turkey.

“There is more to life than football,” the 32-year-old said on Instagram on Saturday.

“I do not feel comfortable and don’t want to play football in this situation. Everyone should be home with their families and loved ones in this critical time.

“Season should be cancelled as the world is facing such turbulent times.”

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Mikel has forfeited all future payments from Trabzonspor as part of his deal to leave the club.

“The professional football player agreement between our company and John Obi Mikel on 30.06.2019 start date 31.05.2021 has been mutually terminated,” read a statement on the club’s official website.

“With a mutual termination agreement, the football player gave up all his forward-looking receivables.”

“Words of wisdom” – football reacts to Mikel decision

Mikel’s decision to leave Trabzonspor has drawn widespread praise, as has his statement on Instagram over the weekend.

Former Chelsea striker and ex-teammate Didier Drogba replied: “Words of wisdom.”

Another former Chelsea forward, Radamel Falcao – also playing in the Turkish Super Lig with Galatasaray – said: “You are right John. The life is more important than football.”

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