Mikel Obi told father had been kidnapped hours before Argentina match

Super Eagles captain Mikel Obi was told his father had been kidnapped few hours before the last Group D match between Nigeria and Argentina.

A family member called the Nigeria captain to break the shocking news to him as he travelled on the Super Eagles team bus to the stadium in St Petersburg last Tuesday. Mikel was ordered to pay a ransom after calling kidnappers' number given to him by the family member.

Mikel has told the Guardian that he could not trust anyone at the Nigerian Football Federation – partly because he did not want any distraction before the crucial match – and how he asked himself whether he had the mental strength to lead the team out.

The Nigerian Police Force were able to rescue Pa Michael Obi, he is currently receiving treatment in hospital as he was tortured during a week-long ordeal.

This is the second time Pa Michael Obi has been kidnapped, the first one happened in August during his time at Chelsea.

Mikel tried to put the trauma to one side and he played the 90 minutes against Argentina. Nigeria lost 2-1 to a late Marcus Rojo goal to exit the tournament. A 1-1 draw would have seen them qualify for the last 16.

“I played while my father was in the hands of bandits,” Mikel said. “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.”

Mikel has now shared a tweet on Tuesday afternoon thanking the Nigerian Police for their efforts and stating that his father is currently recuperating with his family.

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