NIZHNY NOVGOROD, Russia (AP) — Nigeria captain John Obi Mikel says he was told four hours before his country’s crucial World Cup game against Argentina that his father had been kidnapped back home and would be shot if the player reported it to authorities.
Mikel said in a statement on Tuesday from his management company that he hid the news from his teammates and coaches in Russia and “had to shut it out of my head and go and represent my country first.”
Nigeria lost last week’s game in St. Petersburg 2-1 after a late Argentina goal and was eliminated from the World Cup.
Mikel’s father, Michael Mikel, was freed by Nigerian police in the southeastern state of Enugu on Monday.
John Obi Mikel says he learned of his dad’s kidnapping through a telephone call just before the Argentina game, but didn’t tell anyone because he didn’t want it to be a distraction for the team.
It’s the second time his father has been kidnapped in Nigeria.