Team Nigeria Captain, John Obi Mikel, has admonished his fellow athletes at the Rio 2016 Olympics to always put the country first regardless of any situation they find themselves.
Mikel in a statement made available to PREMIUM TIMES said athletes should see their selection to represent the country as a honour and should always make the best use of the opportunity.
‘’In a country of about 180 million people, majority of whom are not just passionate about sports, but are also talented, it is a great honour to be selected. Wearing the national colours at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games gives me great joy.
“I am appealing to all my fellow athletes to see the opportunity to serve our fatherland as a once in a lifetime time opportunity that must not be toyed with. Representing Nigeria at any level comes with huge benefits that cannot be quantified.
“Most of you are probably aware of my story; I was a budding player in Nigeria when God gave me the opportunity to represent my fatherland at the Finland 2003 FIFA U-17 World cup.
“My priority at the championship was to give all for my country on the field of play and be a good ambassador off the field.
“My commitment to the national assignment paid off as I became the darling of some of the best football clubs in the world and some of the world’s best managers after the championships.
“I am appealing to my fellow athletes to give their best for our fatherland on the field and be the nation’s best public relations officers off the field by being good ambassadors.’’
Mikel urged fellow athletes to continue their good conducts and abstain from all forms of anti-social behaviours that could tarnish the image of our dear fatherland like romancing performance enhancing drugs, fighting and any abnormal behaviour.
Mikel thanked President Mummamdu Buhari, the Vice President Yemi Oshibajo, the Minister of Youths and Sports Development, Solomon Dalung, and Nigerians in general for their support to the Nigerian contingent at the Rio Olympics.
In another light, Mikel on Saturday attributed the Nigeria U-23 victory over Japan in their first group match to the goodwill of Nigerians who were solidly behind the team and the grace of God.
Given their arrival to the venue a few hours before the game, many gave an outside chance of winning the match, the best they hoped on was a draw but Mikel inspired his mates to post a dramatic 5-4 win over the Japanese.
“We thank God and millions of Nigerians who stayed awake till late to cheer us. It was not an easy match, we are grateful for their goodwill and support that gave us victory, our focus is now on the next match against Sweden’’ said Mikel.
Nigeria will play Sweden on Sunday at 11pm at the 40, 549 capacity Arena da Amazonia, Manaus, the same stadium where they defeated Japan.
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