The father of John Obi Mikel, captain of Nigeria’s soccer team, was returned to his family Monday after being kidnapped just hours before Mikel played Argentina at the World Cup.
Kidnappers called Mikel on June 26 to tell him his father, Pa Michael Obi, had been abducted while on his way to a funeral in Nigeria. They demanded the equivalent of about $28,000 for his father to be returned, Mikel told KweséESPN. He decided not to say anything before the game because he didn’t want to create any distractions for his teammates or jeopardize his father’s safety.
“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,” Mikel said. “I was told that they would shoot my dad instantly if I reported to the authorities or told anybody.”
Obi was safely returned to his family, Mikel confirmed Tuesday on Twitter. He was rescued Monday after “a gun duel ensued between police operatives and the kidnappers which forced the hoodlums to abandon their victims inside the forest and they were promptly rescued,” Enugu State Police Command spokesperson Ebere Amaraizu said in a statement.