Exclusive! Mikel John Obi predicts England's chances of winning the World Cup

The Nigeria football team captain invites HELLO! into his family home...

The captain of the Nigeria football team, Mikel John Obi, has posed for HELLO! magazine with his beautiful Russian partner Olga Diyachenko at their luxurious West London home. Olga and their two-year-old twin daughters Ava and Mia joined Mikel in Russia during his stint in the World Cup tournament. Mikel, who moved from London club Chelsea to Chinese club Tianjin Teda last year, believes that England stands a good chance of winning. "I think the team England has this World Cup is the best in a long time," he told HELLO!. "They're a young team, with lots of energy, lots of power and they seem very united."

Mikel John Obi talks world cup with HELLO!

Mikel admitted that being absent from his family is difficult. "I miss my family so much when I’m away and every time I come back, there’s that heavy feeling, knowing that I’m going to have to go again," he said. "We make it work. But the love and the feeling I have for London and the family life we have here never leaves me." Raised in the Nigerian city of Jos and one of eight children born to a football-mad father who played to local league level, Mikel says that he and his four brothers always knew that one of them would make it big in the game. "We lived opposite the football stadium so when we weren't playing we were watching matches," he recalled. "It was in our blood from birth and I always knew it was what I wanted to do, it was just a matter of: 'How do I make the dream a reality?'"

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Mikel's vision is to alleviate poverty in the next generation of African children through the creation of sports academies that will encourage and empower young talent. "It's so important to me that I use my platform and privilege in the right way," he said. "Once I put my mind to something I care about, I don’t rest until I achieve it." Olga also hopes to broaden the reach of the foundation to help girls into education. "There's no better time to be a female but in Nigeria and other parts of Africa, girls still have a somewhat second-class-citizen status, so it's about raising awareness," explained the 36-year-old. "If someone like Mikel shows other men it's a positive thing to support girls and women, so much could be achieved."

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Olga met Mikel when her parents lived in the house opposite his in leafy Oxshott, Surrey. “We had kind of been neighbours for four years but had never met. My parents were selling up and I called by to give the agent the keys," recalled Olga. "That's when he saw me." Thinking about the sweet memory, Mikel shared: "Yeah, I saw her. I actually thought she was the estate agent at first, so the only way I could think of to get talking to her was to pretend I was interested in buying the house." Olga added: "When I think about that day, I can remember everything: the feeling, the spark. Even though he seemed quite forward, there was this shyness about him that was very appealing."

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Speaking about their daughters, the doting mother revealed: "They are so different in personality. Ava is like Mikel – if she says she's going to do something, she goes for it. Mia is more of a procrastinator like me; she likes to mull things over." Never a football fan, the slim blonde, who worked in fashion before having her daughters, was rarely spotted at matches when Mikel played for Chelsea. "I was rather judged on that," she said. "But if your partner is a lawyer and has a big case on, you don't go and watch it and spur them on." She continued: "I'm hugely proud of what Mikel has achieved and I've supported him in every other aspect. I just wasn't one of those partners who'd sit in the box and clap and cheer and bring their breastfeeding baby along - it's just not my thing."

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