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I Was Shocked When I Got To China – Mikel Obi

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Nigeria captain Mikel Obi has admitted that he had a “culture shock”when he joined Chinese Super League outfit Tianjin Teda.

Mikel spent 11 years at Chelsea in England before moving to the East in January 2017 after struggling for first team action.

Although he is now back to England with Championship side, Middlesbrough, the former Lyn Oslo man said his experience in China was not what he was used to.

“It was two years of a huge culture shock,” Mikel told the Telegraph. “The food was a problem, the lifestyle, the style in which everything was done.

“When you have been at a club like Chelsea in the Premier League, for 11 years, it was very hard to adapt to how things were done. It isn’t at the elite level, let’s put it that way.

“The pitches were poor, stadiums are poor, and the medical facilities were not what I was used to.

“I’m not saying it’s all the Chinese clubs, some of them are quite professional, but the one I was at, it wasn’t as professional as it should have been. It became tough for me almost straight away.”

He added: “I wouldn’t say I regretted it, I had a good time with my team-mates, but it was never easy.

“The standard of football, it’s not even Championship standard. I realised that very quickly. It’s a league that wants to grow, they are putting a lot of money in, but it is a long way behind.

“I think they are going to struggle to get where they want to be. When you look at the MLS, it’s much easier for players like me who have played in Europe at a high level, who speak English, to go there.

“I think the league in America is on the rise, but for me China is a long way behind them. You can only advance so much by throwing money at something and the Chinese contracts are very generous, but it’s still going to struggle to become a top league. Maybe it’s the language, maybe it’s because it can seem quite alien, it’s daunting.”

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