Nigeria captain played with news of father’s kidnapping

St Petersburg, July 3: In a startling revelation, Nigeria captain John Obi Mikel said he learnt that his father had been kidnapped just hours before he led Nigeria into their final World Cup group phase tie against Argentina. “I played while my father was in the hands of bandits,” Mikel was quoted as saying by The Guardian. “I had to suppress the trauma. I took a call four hours before kick-off to tell me what had happened.”

The former Chelsea midfielder got the news as he travelled on the team bus to the stadium here last week. According to the report, Mikel was asked to call the kidnappers on a designated number. On doing so, the 31-year old was asked to cough up a ransom. Mikel told the Guardian that he could not confide in anyone in the Nigerian Football Federation. “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,” Mikel said. IANS