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Nigeria captain hid dad’s abduction, played World Cup match

first_img“I could not even inform the coaches or NFF (Nigeria Football Federation) 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.”The kidnappers demanded a ransom of $28,000 for Mikel’s father, according to Nigerian police in the southeastern state where his father was rescued.But police spokesman Ebere Amaraizu told The Associated Press that Michael Obi was rescued along with his driver after a shootout and no ransom was paid. The two men had been held by the kidnappers for nearly a week after being abducted on a road while traveling from the central city of Jos to a funeral in the southeastern state of Enugu.Kidnappings for ransom targeting family members of wealthy people are common in Nigeria, an oil-rich nation of nearly 200 million people and Africa’s most populous country.Mikel, one of Nigeria’s most successful players, was at Chelsea in the Premier League from 2006-17. He moved to Chinese club Tianjin Teda last year.His father was also kidnapped in 2011, when the kidnappers demanded a $4 billion ransom from Chelsea.On that occasion, Michael Obi was kidnapped in Jos and rescued in the northern city of Kano, 190 miles away, 10 days later.Mikel said he desperately wanted to talk about his father’s latest kidnapping with Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr at the World Cup but thought it would upset the team, and so kept quiet.“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,” Mikel said. “So as much as I wanted to discuss it with the coach, I could not do it. Thankfully he (Mikel’s father) is now safely released.” Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. 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(AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic, File)NIZHNY NOVGOROD, Russia — Nigeria captain John Obi Mikel played in a crucial World Cup match against Argentina four hours after being told his father had been kidnapped for ransom back home and would be shot if anyone talked to the police.“I had to shut it out of my head and go and represent my country first,” Mikel said.ADVERTISEMENT Bicol riders extend help to Taal evacuees Christopher Tolkien, son of Lord of the Rings author, dies aged 95 Gretchen Barretto’s daughter Dominique graduates magna cum laude from California college Nadine Lustre’s phone stolen in Brazil In a post on his official Twitter account later Tuesday, Mikel said his father was “recuperating with family.”It was the second time Michael Obi had been kidnapped in Nigeria.Mikel said he received a telephone call in St. Petersburg last Tuesday telling him of his father’s abduction as the Nigeria team was heading to the stadium to play in the World Cup against Lionel Messi and Argentina.Nigeria lost 2-1 after a late Argentina goal and was eliminated from the World Cup as a result. Mikel played the whole game knowing that his father was in serious danger.“I was emotionally distraught but had to make a decision about whether I was mentally ready to play the game,” Mikel said in his statement. “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.ADVERTISEMENT PayMaya forces semis rubber match vs BanKo after 5-set win In fight vs corruption, Duterte now points to Ayala, MVP companies as ‘big fish’ View commentslast_img read more

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