Former Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel has revealed that he was offered $70,000 (£53,000) by one agent in an attempt to sign him as a teenager.
Mikel was just out of school when clubs from across Europe – and in particular Chelsea and Manchester United – started showing a lot of interest in him.
Arsenal, Real Madrid and Barcelona were also among his admirers and the Nigerian international claims that an anonymous agent approached him with a briefcase full of cash in an attempt to get him to sign for an unnamed club.
“I had agents promising me everything,” the 30-year-old has told The Sun. “One approached me in the hotel with a briefcase full of cash.
“I can’t remember what club he claimed to represent – but I do remember the briefcase. It was crammed with $70,000 and he offered me that to sign some contract before adding: ‘Sign here and you’ll get a lot more’.
“I was tempted. I’d never seen so much money but I told the Nigerian FA secretary who was looking after me.
“He told me to ignore this agent but promised I would join the best club. After the tournament, I went home to my family and then saw the secretary again in Abuja.
“That’s when he told me: ‘You’re going to United. They want you and you’re leaving tomorrow’. My dad was so happy but mum was crying because I was moving abroad at such a young age.”
Mikel, who was playing for Norwegian side Lyn Oslo at the time, eventually signed for Chelsea in 2006 after he had agreed a provisional deal with Man United in 2005.
The Blues reportedly had to pay £12million in compensation to the Red Devils to see the deal through.