Back in 2005 Mikel was one of the most highly-rated young footballers in the world, with top teams across Europe fighting for his signature. After agreeing a 4million move to Old Trafford, the Nigerian was even pictured in a United shirt during a press conference before the move sensationally fell through after the player said he felt pressured into the move.
Mikel has now opened up about the failed move to United – and legendary United manager Sir Alex Ferguson&aposs reaction to the news he would not be moving to the Reds.
Speaking to talkSPORT, Mikel said: “I think I was 17 back then. I was in Norway at Lyn, Oslo. I played my first game for the club and the week after that United flew into Oslo and they were like, &aposOkay, you know what, you came once to the club, you were young and we had you at the club for two or three months and now you&aposve gone away and nobody knows where you are but here you are at Lyn in Oslo, Norway&apos.
“I was like, &aposYeah here I am.&apos And then Fergie sent someone down to Oslo with a pre-contract. It was like, &aposHere, you need to sign this contract because the boss wants you to sign. We want you at the club&apos.
“It [Manchester] was a special place for me as well because I was there for two or three months. I know the place. I know the likes of Roy Keane, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt. We used to train together. The gaffer was like, &aposOh you need to sign this, you need to sign the contract, because we want you back at the club&apos.
“I was like, &aposYou know what, I think I&aposm going to sign this&apos. So I signed the pre-contract with Manchester United.
“I was sent to Lyn Oslo by Chelsea, so Chelsea were looking out for me and my family back then so the United coaches found out where I was and they sent someone down with the contract and they were like, &aposOkay we need to snatch you now, we need to make sure you sign for United&apos.
“So they came down with a contract and I think it was about 1million salary so I looked at it and I was like, &aposWow this is a changing moment for me and my family&apos.
“So I spoke to the club and it was like &aposyou have a contract here, Chelsea haven&apost got a contract for you so you better sign this contract&apos. Then we had a discussion for an hour or two and then finally I signed for United.”
But after the press conference where United announced they had won the race for the highly-rated youngster, Chelsea were not happy.
Mikel added: “I did the press conference and it was everywhere. Then Roman [Abramovic], everybody at Chelsea saw it and were like, &aposWhat&aposs going on here? We&aposve been looking out for this player for two or three years now, what&aposs happening here?&apos
“Then they sent my agent down to Lyyn in Oslo and he came to Norway. Then for a couple of hours, I went missing. So he took me out from my apartment where I used to live with a couple of my friends. He took me out of there and was like, &aposListen we need to go back to London. I need to get you out of Norway right now because what you&aposve done right now, we are in so much, so much trouble with Chelsea and Roman is not happy.
“So my agent took me to a hotel and then the next morning we flew down to London and then the rest was history. It took me about a year so I couldn&apost play for either United or Chelsea because FIFA were like, &aposWe need to resolve this&apos.
“I went to FIFA and was like, &aposI didn&apost mean to sign for United, the pen slipped!&apos”
In the controversy that followed, Mikel had a meeting at FA offices where he came face-to-face with the fearsome Scot.
“I did have a meeting with him [Sir Alex Ferguson] at the FA office in London because the FA wanted to get involved,” Mikel added. “It was like like, &aposWe need to get his this player playing, he is a young player, he needs to play football&apos.
“So I had a meeting with Sir Alex Ferguson at the FA office, just me and him in the room, that was spicy that.
“I had my agent sitting outside it was like, &aposWhen you go into this meeting, everything he says he will try to brainwash you so make sure everything he says you say &aposno&apos&apos.
“So when I went into the meeting, everything he was saying I was like, &aposSorry boss I can&apost play for United, it was a mistake I didn&apost mean to sign it&apos.
“It was a long table. He was sitting right over there and I was sitting at the edge of the table. I could see him go red. He was like, &aposAre you sure? You don&apost want to play for United, the biggest club in the world? What is it? You want more money? I will give it to you.
“I was like, &aposSorry boss I can&apost play for United I want to go to Chelsea&apos. So we had about 20 or 30 minutes in the room then he walked off and that was it.