24 March 2019

Nigeria: Mikel Obi Reveals Fears Over Father's Kidnap

Super Eagles captain, John Mikel Obi revealed that he had fears his kidnapped father would be shot as he played against Argentina in Nigeria's final group game in the 2018 World Cup.

It was the second time his father had been kidnapped and Mikel was informed a few hours before the game.

"I thought I was going to lose my dad, I thought he was going to be shot because of the demands and stuff," Mikel revealed to BBC World Service's Sportsworld.

"They said they would shoot him and in the back of my head during the game I thought that after the match I would probably find out they had decided to shoot him.

"It's life. It's made me stronger as a person. I can look at so many things and say 'this is not going to shake me because I've been through worse'. I just hope that it never happens again and my dad can enjoy the rest of his life in peace."

The police were able to secure the release of Mikel's father after the midfielder had reportedly paid N10 million to the kidnappers. Michael Obi, Mikel's father, was kidnapped along the Makurdi-Enugu expressway while he was travelling from Jos.

"It was difficult for me. When I heard that it had happened it was heartbreaking for me, especially with the timing. I knew it would be traumatic for my dad," Mikel said.

"I didn't say anything to anyone. I took it on myself and I held it in.

"I went out there and nobody knew about it. No single person knew about it. It was my responsibility [to lead the team], it was my job and I had to do it.

"I sat down in my room and thought about it so many times and thought 'should I say something?'"

"It stayed in my head during the game and you could see afterwards how I felt."

Mikel has not featured for the Super Eagles since the ordeal. The Middlesbrough midfielder was missing from the list of invitees for the Seychelles and Egypt games. Super Eagles' coach Gernot Rohr had to field questions concerning the captain's continued absence.

"Obi Mikel is playing well at Middlesbrough and he is doing well now, but there is still a little problem with his knee and it is not the moment for him to come back to the team in these conditions," Rohr said before Nigeria's game against Seychelles.

"We are watching what is happening and we hope he can come back one day because we need experience. We now have more young players than the last list."

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