Crashing out of the World Cup earlier than anticipated was bad for John Mikel Obi, but it could have been worse for the Super Eagles captain, latest revelations have shown.
Mikel in an interview published on KweséESPN said he got a call from Nigeria barely four hours to the crucial game against Argentina (which Nigeria lost 1-2) that his father had been kidnapped. The abductors threatening to kill the aged man “instantly” if authorities were informed.
Mikel further revealed that the kidnappers demanded N10 million ($28,000 US) for the safe return of his father, Pa Michael Obi.
It was reported that the elder Obi was on his way to a funeral in Sout-east 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, the police said.
“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 was quoted as saying.
“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.”
Nigeria lost that game 2-1 to Argentina and were eliminated from the World Cup.
Pa Obi was eventually rescued by the Nigeria Police on Monday at Egede, near Udi in Enugu State.
The news was announced by the Enugu State Police Command via a statement on Monday. Only then did Mikel speak publicly about the incident.