Former Super Eagles captain, John Obi Mikel, has revealed how he had to pay some ‘crazy amount of money’ to get his dad released by kidnappers.
Recall in 2018 four hours before the Super Eagles game against Argentina in Russia, Mikel had received news that his dad, Pa Michael Obi had been kidnapped along with his driver, Ishaya John, on the Markurdi – Enugu road.
The football star despite knowing this, shrugged it off and went on to lead the Super Eagles in what was widely applauded as a high-level of patriotism.
In an interview with Dubai Eye 103.8 Sport, Mikel narrated how he was able to prosecute the game in spite of the harrowing thoughts of his father’s safety.
Mikel said that he received the disturbing news while travelling on the team bus to the stadium in St Petersburg.
The former Chelsea midfielder said a family member had called and told him that he had to call the kidnappers on a designated number, which he did and was ordered to pay a ransom.
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He revealed that although he was distraught by the news, he had to put it aside and go ahead with the match.
“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,” he said.
“They [the kidnappers] said listen, we know, it is Mikel he would pay. If he doesn’t, we are going to shoot his dad. They said they had nothing to lose. They would shoot my dad and dump him somewhere,” Mikel Obi said.
“It was horrible. After the game, I got back on the phone, tried to negotiate with them and spoke with them. They were calling some ridiculous amount of money for a start, and in the end, I still had to pay some crazy amount of money to get my dad out.
“Even now, I still go through it. Even when I got a flashback, I had to speak to the guys on the phone. There was a gunpoint at his head. They said they would shoot him, kill him. I have not told my kids about it, but a few months ago, they looked at my phone and saw the news about it. Obviously, I have not told them about it because they are young kids, 7 years, but one day when they grow up, I will be able to share the story with them,” he said.