John Obi Mikel has revealed he was told that his father had been kidnapped just hours before the World Cup match between Nigeria and Argentina.
The former Chelsea midfielder and Super Eagles captain was told the news that father Pa Michael Obi had been abducted in south-east Nigeria while he was on board the team coach.
Mikel didn’t tell anyone what had happened before the match in St Petersburg and went on to play as Nigeria went out of the tournament after a 2-1 defeat.
His father has now been released after police back in his home country stepped in and is being treated in hospital for trauma after a week-long ordeal.
“I played while my father was in the hands of bandits,” he told The Guardian. “I had to suppress the trauma. I took a call four hours before kick-off to tell me what had happened.
“I was emotionally distraught and I had to make the decision about whether I was mentally ready to play. 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. I had to shut it out of my head and go and represent my country first. I could not even inform the coaches or NFF 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. I also did not want to discuss it with the coach [Gernot Rohr] because I did not want my issue to become a distraction to him or the rest of the team on the day of such an important game. As much as I wanted to discuss it with the coach, I could not.
“Thankfully, my father was safely released on Monday afternoon. I thank the police authorities for their rescue efforts and the support I’ve received from friends and family members. Unfortunately, my dad is now in hospital receiving emergency treatment as a result of the torture he received during his capture.”