The Independent says he jokes that he has proved wrong everyone in Nigeria who said he should join United because he would have had more chance of getting a game there - and there is a special debt to Didier Drogba.
"They are nice guys here and they all helped me in different ways," he says. "Drogba was always there for me because every time I did something wrong Mourinho went to him and complained. Then Drogba came to me and I got it second-hand. Clarkey [Steve Clarke] and Mourinho really liked me - Mourinho gave me the confidence to be who I am today."
It's the big, unavoidable question at Chelsea: what is life like post-Mourinho? It would have been easy for Mikel to skip this one but he takes a deep breath and gives an honest, heartfelt answer.
"I will always appreciate what Mourinho did for me," he says. "I had my problems and he stood by me. He said 'I want that player no matter what he costs'. He stood by me and he made sure everything came true. That's why I say he was like my father; here he was my dad. Outside football he would always ask me what I was doing - 'Are you taking care of your family?' - things like that. He was there for me and I really appreciate it. Now everything has happened and he's gone but he is still in my mind. We just have to keep going and the new manager has done fantastically well.
"I don't think a lot has been changed, it is still the same club. The new technical crew are doing a very good job. What happened has happened. It was like a shock, 'How are we going to get through this?' but everyone is back doing a really good job and we are doing well. I'm telling you the team is in good spirits, after what happened we just try to move on. We're doing this for ourselves and for our team and we have to support whoever is there. That's why the team is doing well."