Mikel John Obi Played in Nigeria vs. Argentina Despite His Father’s Kidnapping
London, July 3, 2018, (AltAfrica) – Nigeria captain Mikel John Obi has revealed he was told his father, Pa Michael Obi, had been kidnapped hours before he played for the Super Eagles against Argentina on June 26.
The 2-1 defeat proved to be Nigeria’s final game at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, but Mikel explained he had other matters on his mind. His father, who has subsequently been released, was being held for ransom and being threatened with death, the midfielder told David Hytner of the Guardian on Tuesday:
“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.”
Per Hytner, Pa Michael Obi was abducted in south-east Nigeria while on his way to a funeral, and he is currently being treated in hospital after being tortured during his week-long capture. He was also kidnapped once before back in 2011.
AFP Africa reported the former Chelsea player paid 10 million naira (£21,000) to secure his father’s release