The federal government of Nigeria has appointed John Mikel Obi, former Super Eagles midfielder, as the country’s youth ambassador.
Obi’s appointment was announced on Friday at an event at the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) secretariat in Surulere, Lagos.
Speaking at the event, Sunday Dare, minister of youth and sports development, said Obi’s appointment is aimed to “inspire young Nigerians to strive for excellence”.
The minister also described Mikel as a role model whose lasting legacies in football development has continued to have positive impact on youths in the country.
“It is it my pleasure to appoint you as Nigeria Youth Ambassador. It’s a new portfolio and your role as youth ambassador will be made known to Nigerians,” Dare said, according to a statement from his media office.
“It’s phenomenon to have somebody like him, he should be able to gather young men around and talk to them.
“Time will not permit me to say much about Mikel’s success as a footballer.
He is our legend and a role model who has continued to impact the lives of youth positively.”
The 34-year-old, who seemed delighted about his appointment, promised to work with the sports ministry to foster youth development in the country
“I feel highly honoured to be appointed as Youth Ambassador of this country, it is a great feeling,” Obi said.
“I am happy with this partnership and I promise to do my best to encourage and inspire the youths towards national development not just in football but in other sports like Basketball, Boxing among others.”
Obi played at all national football levels in his international career for Nigeria.
He represented the Nigeria U-17 team at the 2003 FIFA World Cup and U-20 at the 2005 football mundial and then won the silver ball for the second-best player at the tournament (behind Lionel Messi).
He was also a key player for the team coached by the late Stephen Keshi that went on to win their third Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa in 2013.
The Stoke City player captained Samson Siasia’s U-23 squad that clinched the bronze medal at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.
Obi retired from international football in 2019, after Nigeria won the AFCON third place medal.