Mikel happy to put disciplinary issues in the past

John Obi Mikel is convinced his bad-boy reputation has gone for good after two years without a red card to his name. Midfielder Mikel's early seasons at Stamford Bridge were blighted by four red cards – including one in the Carling Cup final victory over Arsenal in 2007 – and 27 yellow cards.

However, the Nigeria international has only picked up two bookings so far this season and has not seen red since January 2008 against Everton. Mikel puts the dramatic improvement in his disciplinary record down to adapting to the English game.

"English football is always something crazy and, when you come into the Premier League, you must adapt to it somehow," said Mikel. "The timing of those tackles was the area I had to improve and I think I've dealt well with it. It was the hunger I had for the games, the enthusiasm, that meant I didn't know how to restrict myself from going into tackles at the wrong moment.

"It took me a bit of time to get used to things but now it has been two years with no red cards and I hope I can continue like that. I always try to keep my aggression but not get booked. But when you play in my position, sometimes you have to commit because the team will be in danger if you don't."

Mikel was the last of Chelsea's four African Nations Cup players to return to England last month. His Nigeria side were beaten in the semi-finals of the competition but won their third-place play-off 1-0 against Algeria. Mikel was a 78th-minute substitute in that game but he has slotted straight back into the Chelsea side since he returned, including a fine performance against Arsenal. He was outstanding against Cardiff in Chelsea's FA Cup fifth-round win on Saturday and is now hoping for a hat-trick of triumphs in the competition.

Chelsea face the winners of the replay between Manchester City and Stoke in the last eight. Mikel has won the trophy in two of his three full seasons at Stamford Bridge. "I want to do well because I always want to win," Mikel said. "But maybe the final feels a bit more special and a good performance there shows people how much you want to win the trophy. I think playing the FA Cup, whatever round you are in, always feels very special."

Life and Style
love + sex
Voices
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all