Mikel is Chelsea’s unsung hero, says Di Matteo-Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) – John Obi Mikel’s value to Chelsea often goes unrecognised and by fans of the European champions but manager Roberto Di Matteo says the midfielder is one of the ’s unsung heroes.

Mikel occupies the anchor role just in front of the defence and only rare chances to go for glory further forwards, evidenced fact he is still waiting to bag first goal in 135 Premier League appearances for the Londoners.

The 25-year-old scored a rare goal at the weekend when he converted a penalty in ’s 6-1 rout of Liberia as side qualified for the African Nations Cup finals.

“Over the years he has been almost ever-present,” Di Matteo told the ’s website (www.chelseafc.com) on Monday. “He was very important at the back of last season and this season he has started in good form.

“We all make mistakes in games and I don’t think he the credit for the work he does for the team.”

Former Italy midfielder Di Matteo often performed the same task as Mikel during playing days at Chelsea and has a strong empathy with the .

Earlier this month, Di Matteo said: “I don’t know why Mikel is underrated or the fans. He is very rated by us in the group and ’s a position where you’re a bit of an unsung hero.

“You do the dirty work which is not recognised all the time because the goalscorers and more creative players get the recognition. But he is very important for our team.”

Chelsea, who have a four-point lead at the of the Premier League, have a difficult series of fixtures coming up.

They London rivals Tottenham Hotspur, and former manager Andre Villas-Boas, on Saturday travelling to Ukraine to meet Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League next week.

Chelsea then have back-to-back home games against Manchester United in the Premier League and League Cup.


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