Football

Mikel father kidnapped

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Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel played in Sunday's goalless draw at Stoke despite knowing his father had been abducted back in his Nigeria homeland.

Mikel's father Michael was seized on Friday but the player insisted on playing in his club's Barclays Premier League opener at the Britannia Stadium.

In a statement, Mikel's representatives Sport Entertainment and Media Group said: "SEM confirms that client John Obi Mikel's father was abducted in Nigeria on Friday, August 10. Thus far no ransom (demand) has been received. Mikel was informed by his manager prior to the Stoke v Chelsea match and decided to play so as not to let down his team and family."

Michael Obi, who runs a transport company, has not been seen or heard from since he failed to return home from work in Jos, the capital of Plateau State in central Nigeria.

Mikel's agent John Ola Shittu praised his client for the character he showed in turning out against Stoke.

"He is totally devastated. We were not sure whether to tell him before the game," he told KickOffNigeria.com. "But after speaking to the manager (Andre Villas-Boas) and Mike Emenalo (Chelsea's sporting director) we agreed that he had a right to be informed of such a serious incident.

"He was under a lot of stress but he showed a lot of character and mental strength to play against Stoke."

Shittu told the BBC: "It's been tough for the young man. The family in Jos reported him missing at the police station as expected but we're taking all necessary measures to find him. We've told him to be brave and to stay calm."

Mikel is not the first Barclays Premier League player to have a family member abducted in Nigeria.

In July 2008 the elder brother of Everton defender Joseph Yobo was kidnapped in Port Harcourt. Nornu Yobo was released after 10 days but it was never made clear whether a ransom was paid.

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

Topics:
Joseph Yobo
Stoke City
Football
Chelsea
Premier League
Everton
John Obi Mikel
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