John Obi Mikel was told his father had been kidnapped before Argentina game

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John Obi Mikel has revealed he played against Argentina last Tuesday knowing his father had been kidnapped and was being held for ransom.

Four hours before the game, the Nigeria captain received a phone call from the abductors demanding N10 million (€28,000) for the safe return of his father.

But he didn't tell anyone because they threatened to shoot "instantly" if authorities were informed about the kidnapping.

Mikel's father was on his way to a funeral on June 26 when he and his driver were taken along the Makurdi-Enugu expressway.

He was rescued on Monday by police following a "gun duel" and has since been treated in hospital for torture wounds, needing multiple stitches.

Speaking to KweseESPN, Mikel recalled the terrifying moment he found out his father had been kidnapped but bravely decided to play against Argentina anyway.

In the former Chelsea man's words, he didn't want to distract his teammates or let down 180 million Nigeria fans.


Nigeria ended up losing 2-1 to Argentina, after which Mikel immediately flew home to England to deal with the situation.

"I was confused," he said on Tuesday. "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 was told that they would shoot my dad instantly if I reported to the authorities or told anybody.


"And I did not want to discuss it with the coach because I did not want my issue to become a distraction to the coach or the rest of the team on the day of such an important game.

"So as much as I wanted to discuss it with the coach, I could not do it."

A statement from Nigeria police also read: "The abductors started calling to demand a ransom of N10 million before police operatives acted on intelligence information and swooped on them.

"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 and they were promptly rescued."

John Obi Mikel
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