John Obi Mikel has revealed that he learned his father had been kidnapped just hours before he played in Nigeria’s loss to Argentina which saw his country eliminated from the World Cup. The Nigeria captain was informed of the news by a family member while he traveled on the team bus to the stadium in St. Petersburg. Mikel was told that he must call the kidnappers and when he did so, was ordered to pay a ransom. The midfielder did not inform anyone in the Super Eagles camp and he went on to play the match against the South Americans.
“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.”
Super Eagles captain Mikel reportedly paid a ransom of 10 million naira (about £21,000) for his release, and his unhurt father is now “recuperating with family”. It is the second time Mikel’s father has been kidnapped, with the first taking place in August 2011 while his son played for Chelsea. Also, it is not the first time a relative of a footballer has been abducted in Nigeria. Former Everton defender Joseph Yobo’s brother was kidnapped in 2008, before being released after two weeks.