Ex-Racing Genk star Wilfred Ndidi has admitted that he was pretty nervous when he met Chelsea legend John Obi Mikel for the first time at a national team get-together in Belgium in October 2015.
The Nath Boys product was among three foreign-based professionals handed late call-ups for the international friendlies against Democratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon following the non-issuance of visas to six home – based players that were earlier named in the squad list.
Ndidi revealed that he grew up idolising Mikel and always wanted to be allocated his number 12 jersey while at Nath Boys despite being a central defender.
In an Instagram Live chat with ESPN journalist Colin Udoh, Ndidi stated : “Mikel is someone I idolised, I grew up watching him. People around me were tired of me.
“When I was in Nath Boys if they want to share jerseys before they put names I want to take the number 12. As a central defender I want to take the number 12 because Mikel wears the number 12.
“When I saw him first time in Belgium I was nervous, I couldn’t take photographs with him, I was scared. Even in training I couldn’t get close to him and tackle him.
“Mikel is a legend, we don’t appreciate him but he’s a big name and legend. First time I couldn’t talk to him personally except there is a conversation going on and I join, I couldn’t talk to him one on one.”
Ndidi played together in midfield with Mikel at international level and the Leicester City star has said that he was happy to be living his dream.
“It’s a dream come true seeing Mikel, playing on the same pitch with him and my first (second) game for the Super Eagles I came in for Mikel, it was a plus for me, I am still happy till today.
“Thank God for the way everything is going and how far I have gone, the step I have taken, meeting this people, the encouragement, the experience they have, it’s really good for me.”
On the club he supported as a kid, the Foxes number 25 said : “When I was growing up, I used to support Chelsea”.