Mark Clattenburg has refereed the world’s greatest players and taken charge of the biggest matches, including finals of the European Championship, Champions League and FA Cup. He is also a columnist in the British daily newspaper, Daily Mail.
In narrating the challenges he had faced as a referee, he mentioned former Super Eagles’ skipper, Mikel Obi as one of the five most irritating players he has had to contend with on the football field.
The other four are Craig Bellamy of Manchester City in the game against Bolton in December 2009; Manchester United’s Roy Keane who tried to bully him as the players often did to referees; Jens Lehmann and Ex-Real Madrid star Pepe.
On Mikel, the referee remarked:
“I have picked Mikel because of the incident during a Chelsea v Manchester United match in 2012 when he accused me of making a racist comment, which was not right and I was later cleared by the FA.
“He has never apologised and that is disappointing because it could have ruined my life. I fell out of love with refereeing for a while after that but couldn’t quit because I had a family to support and no other career to pursue.
“It all left a bad feeling that still lingers today.
“Mikel only heard the allegation from his team-mate Ramires, who did not speak English. Other Chelsea players have since apologised but nothing from Mikel.
“He had the chance to say sorry and speak to me about it during a Nigeria friendly in the United States before the World Cup in 2014, and I would have welcomed that, but nothing, sadly.”