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.
According to a BBC report, Mikel received a call from a family member informing him about his father's kidnapping while he was on the team bus, on the way to the Saint Petersburg Stadium. Mikel received a $28,000 ransom demand four hours before Nigeria faced off against Argentina and its star Lionel Messi in Russian Federation, elimination ultimately coming with a 2-1 loss. He decided not to say anything before the game because he didn't want to create any distractions for his teammates or jeopardize his father's safety.
"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 was told that they would shoot my dad instantly if I reported to the authorities or told anybody".
Though the police confirmed that the victim is "hale and hearty" following the duel, the Tianjin Teda midfielder stressed that his father is fine and recuperating with family.
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Police in the southern state of Enugu said in a statement they had rescued the father, named as Pa Michael Obi, along with his driver unhurt in the Egede-Udi forest at around 2.30 pm (1330 GMT) on Monday following a "gun duel".
This the second time that Mikel's father has been kidnapped.
His father was also kidnapped in 2011, when the kidnappers demanded a $4 billion ransom from Chelsea.