Mark Clattenburg has listed John Mikel Obi, former Super Eagles captain, among the five most annoying players he refereed during his blistering career as a Premier League and FIFA accredited official.
Widely regarded as one of the best referees of his generation, Clattenburg took charge of the 2016 European Championship, Champions League and FA Cup finals among others.
But the 45-year-old’s career was not without its challenges and in a recent interview, he opened up about the footballers that got on his nerves during his 13 years of top-flight officiating.
In the chat with Daily Mail UK, Clattenburg revealed the five most irritating players he has refereed; including one player who he claims squeezed his private parts in the tunnel and another who was a straight up bully.
The list includes Craig Bellamy, ex-Welsh professional footballer; Roy Keane, former Manchester United star; Jens Lehmann, former Arsenal goalkeeper; Pepe, Portuguese professional footballer; and Mikel Obi, former Nigerian international.
Speaking about the ex-Eagles captain, Clattenburg said: “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.