Super Eagles captain John Mikel Obi has revealed that he found out that his father, Obi Snr., has been kidnapped before the team’s all-important Russia 2018 World Cup Group D clash with Argentina.
The Tianjin Teda midfielder made this known in an interview with The Guardian as he added that he opted to play the match despite learning about it while on the team bus enroute the venue of the game (Saint Petersburg Stadium, St. Petersburg).
John Mikel Obi made his 85th appearance for Nigeria on Tuesday night but he was powerless to prevent a 2-1 defeat to Argentina which confirmed the team’s exit from the tournament.
He also played the Argentina game with a cast on his hand after suffering a metacarpal injury during the team’s 2-0 over Iceland.
In his words, the former Chelsea star said: “I played while my father was in the hands of bandits. I had to suppress the trauma. I took a call four hours before kick-off to tell me what had happened.
“I was emotionally distraught and I had to make the decision about whether I was mentally ready to play. I was confused. I did not know what to do but, in the end, I knew that I could not let 180 million Nigerians down. I had to shut it out of my head and go and represent my country first. I could not even inform the coaches or NFF staff and only a very tight circle of my friends knew.
“I was told that they would shoot my dad instantly if I reported to the authorities or told anybody. I also did not want to discuss it with the coach [Gernot Rohr] because I did not want my issue to become a distraction to him or the rest of the team on the day of such an important game. As much as I wanted to discuss it with the coach, I could not.
“Thankfully, my father was safely released on Monday afternoon. I thank the police authorities for their rescue efforts and the support I’ve received from friends and family members. Unfortunately, my dad is now in hospital receiving emergency treatment as a result of the torture he received during his capture.” He concluded.
This is second time Mikel’s father, Pa Michael Obi, would be kidnapped.
He was first kidnapped in 2011 before the latest incident which occurred while he was on his way to a funeral along the Makurdi-Enugu way from Jos.