Nigeria captain Mikel John Obi overcame unimaginable circumstances to compete in his country’s World Cup match against Argentina last week.
Mikel revealed he was told hours before the match that his father was abducted in southeast Nigeria and held for ransom.
“I played while my father was in the hands of bandits,” Mikel told the Guardian . “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 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.”
Mikel followed the demands of the kidnappers, kept the secret and played a full 90 minutes in a 2-1 loss to Argentina.
“I was emotionally distraught and I had to make the decision about whether I was mentally ready to play. I was confused,” he said. “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.
Mikel’s father was released on Monday, but is currently undergoing treatment for injuries suffered while being tortured as a captive.
This is not the first time Mikel's father had been kidnapped, with the previous instance being in August, 2011.
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