On Tuesday 26th of June 2018, Nigeria’s Super Eagles captain John Mikel Obi led the Nigerian team to played their final group game this year World Cup 2018 in Russia, against the Lionel Messi‘s led Argentina team, despite fully knowing that his father Elder Michael Obi, has being held for ransom in Enugu, with the kidnappers telling him not to tell anybody or he should risk his father’s life of being shoot “instantly” if authorities were informed.
While speaking with the KweséESPN reporter Collin Udoh, Mikel Obi said that he received a call from the kidnappers about four hours before kickoff in the decisive World Cup clash against Argentina in St Petersburg, and they demanded N10 Million ($28,000 US) for the safe return of his father, Pa Michael Obi.
Mikel, speaking to KweséESPN after the rescue, said that he did not tell his bosses at the Nigeria Football Federation, nor did he tell his coach Gernot Rohr, but instead kept the situation to himself and opted to face Lionel Messi‘s team as if nothing was amiss.
“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,” Mikel said. “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.”
The elder Obi was on his way to a funeral in southeastern Nigeria from Jos when he was abducted along the Makurdi-Enugu expressway on June 26. He and his driver were rescued by police, after a “gun duel,” on July 2, nearly a week after the kidnapping.
Mikel’s father was then taken to hospital for treatment, with family sources telling KweséESPN that the elderly man had been tortured and required multiple stitches. He returned to hospital on Tuesday after some of the sutures broke, and Mikel is considering flying his father abroad for further treatment.
Nigeria lost that game 2-1 to Argentina and were eliminated from the World Cup. The midfielder flew home to England almost immediately to deal with the situation, and is scheduled to return to China, where he plays his club football, later on Tuesday.