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Nigeria Captain John Obi Mikel’s Father Kidnapped During World Cup


Nigeria soccer captain John Obi Mikel revealed on Tuesday that kidnappers abducted and threatened to murder his father, hours before the team’s final World Cup match last week.

The midfielder’s father, Pa Michael Obi, was eventually rescued by Nigerian police in a dramatic gun battle, after a six-day ordeal that involved physical torture, according to the Guardian and KweseESPN.

“I played while my father was in the hands of bandits,” Mikel said. “I had to suppress the trauma. I took a call four hours before kick-off to tell me what had happened. I was told that they would shoot my dad instantly if I reported to the authorities or told anybody.”

Mikel said on Tuesday that his father was receiving emergency medical treatment in the southeastern region of Nigeria, where the kidnapping took place. Mikel’s father was previously kidnapped in 2011.

The player was informed of the crime as he headed to the stadium last Tuesday, before Nigeria’s 2-1 defeat to Argentina that eliminated the team from the tournament.

A family member passed on instructions that he was to call the kidnappers on a number that was supplied. Upon making the call, Mikel was told to pay a ransom of around $27,700, or else his father would be killed.

The 31-year-old, who spent 11 years at Chelsea in the English Premier league and now plays his club soccer in China with Tianjin TEDA, did not inform the Nigerian Football Federation or his teammates of his father’s plight.

“I was emotionally distraught and I had to make the decision about whether I was mentally ready to play,” he added. “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 also did not want to discuss it with (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.”

Enugu State Police superintendent Ebere Amaraizu revealed that “operatives acted on intelligence information and swooped in on (the abductors).”

“In the process of the rescue, a gun duel ensued between police operatives and the kidnappers which forced the hoodlums to abandon their victims inside the forest,” Amaraizu said.

The NFF did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Source: USAtoday

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