Super Eagles Skipper Mikel John Obi has revealed he played in his side’s World Cup clash against Argentina last week despite being told his father had been kidnapped just beforehand.
The 31-year-old also told the Guardian he could not reveal it to anybody at the time in what must have been an experience more traumatic than many of us can imagine.
“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.”
He continued: “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.”
This is not the first time Mikel’s father has been kidnapped, having endured a similar ordeal in 2011, being kidnapped while at work when the midfielder was at Chelsea in 2011.