John Obi Mikel spent an incredible 10 years at Stamford Bridge where he won every trophy in England, including the UEFA Champions League, before the end came when Antonio Conte joined in July 2016.
“I had been called up by my national team to play and it was a dream,” Mikel told The Athletic.
“It’s a dream for anyone to go to the Olympics. Yes, as players we want to win the Champions League and the World Cup, but the Olympics is a massive tournament.
“This guy [Conte] who has just walked in the door for five minutes is telling me I had to choose.
“He was saying, ‘If you do that, you won’t be a part of this team’. I spoke to the club and told them that I wanted to go. The club respected me because of what I had done for them and how long I’d been there.
“So off I went and I felt punished for that. I came back and I didn’t make the squad. I was never in the squad list on match days again.
The 33-year-old Mikel, who later moved to China’s TJ Tiger, before returning to England with Stoke City in the lower division, added to describe he rejected Conte’s attempts to reconcile.
“The funny thing is, just before the January window was going to start, he came up to me and said ‘I want a meeting with you’. This was after making me train on my own for months, treating a player who had been at Chelsea for a long time like this!
“When he tried to meet with me he was like, ‘Let’s try and make up, I will need you in the team, let’s squash this, blah, blah, blah!’. I was like, ‘Are you joking?! Are you f*cking serious?!’ He knew I wanted out. I stood up and walked out of the room. You can’t disrespect a human being like that.
“I couldn’t wait for the window to open to get out. I was talking to the hierarchy and explaining that I would definitely have to go. They agreed, they understood,” Mikel concluded.