John Obi Mikel has explained how taking a stand over coronavirus caused him to walk out on Trabzonspor.
The Nigerian midfielder parted ways with the Turkish club on Tuesday, a few days after he expressed his concerns over playing football during the outbreak and called on the country’s football authorities to cancel the season.
His departure was a surprising one considering his contribution had helped the team to remain in the lead of the title race.
Mikel, 32, has now spoken for the first time since the acrimonious divorce with Trabzonspor.
He told The Athletic: “They were really upset about the whole thing. I was told to meet with the president in his office one-on-one.
‘He asked me to take it down (his statement). I told him I wasn’t going to do that. It’s my opinion. This is how I feel. We live in a free world. I have freedom of speech. I can express my opinion.
‘I wanted to win the league too but at this point in time, we have to think about what is more important: to save peoples’ lives.
‘I want to help in any way that I can to defeat this virus. For us to be out there playing; I don’t think we are helping the global situation. I don’t feel it is right for us to play football.
‘I told them I wanted to go home. They said, “If you go home, you’re not coming back.” I said, “OK, I’m going home.”‘