Although he was confused, Mikel said he went on to play because he 'could not let 180 million Nigerians down'.
Super Eagles captain John Mikel Obi has revealed that he received a call from his dad's kidnappers just four hours before Nigeria’s crucial game against Argentina in the group stage of the 2018 FIFA World Cup on Tuesday, June 26.
Mikel’s dad Pa Michael Obi was kidnapped earlier that day along the Makurdi-Enugu expressway while on his way to a funeral.
The Nigerian Police rescued Pa Michael and his driver on Monday, July 2 after a gun duel with the kidnappers in Egede axis of Udi Forest of Enugu State along Old Egede Affa road in the state.
In a new revelation, Mikel revealed that he received a call from the kidnappers who demanded a N10M ransom and also threatened to kill his dad if he inform authorities.
He, however, kept it a secret from the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Super Eagles boss Gernot Rohr and his teammates.
'I could not let 180 million Nigerians down'
"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 told Kwese Sport.
"I had to shut it out of my head and go and represent my country first. I was told that they would shoot my dad instantly if I reported to the authorities or told anybody.
"And I did not want to discuss it with the coach because I did not want my issue to become a distraction to the coach or the rest of the team on the day of such an important game. So as much as I wanted to discuss it with the coach, I could not do it."
In a show of his mental strength, Mikel played the whole 90 minutes as a courageous Super Eagles were just five minutes away from reaching the Round of 16 of the World Cup before a Marcos Rojo's 86th minute gave Argentina a 2-1 win to put Nigeria to the sword.
Nigerian police on Monday in their statement revealed that they rescued Pa Michael before any ransom could be paid.
“It was further gathered that the abductors started calling to demand a ransom of N10 million before police operatives acted on intelligence information and swooped on them,” a Police spokesman said.
“In the process of the rescue, 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.”
This is not the first time Mikel will go ahead to play a game despite prior knowledge of his dad’s kidnapping.
It was just less than 24 hours before Chelsea’s opening Premier League game of the season in 2011 when the midfielder was informed of his father’s disappearance by the then Chelsea manager, André Villas-Boas, and the club’s technical director, Michael Emenalo.
After speaking with his mother, though, the player elected to take part in the game, despite his personal pain.