While millions of optimistic Nigerians were looking forward to Super Eagles’ qualification ahead of favorites, Argentina, in the knockout phase at the World Cup finals in Russia, team’s captain John Mikel Obi Tuesday disclosed that he was in trauma on the day of the match because of his dad’s abduction.
He said he had to carry on with the burden of 180 million to play in the 1-2 loss at Saint Petersburg last week despite the incident.
It was widely reported Monday that the Nigerian Police had been able to rescue Pa Micheal Obi from his abductors and had since returned home to reunite with his family. But Nigerians were shocked that the time of the kidnap coincided with the day Super Eagles played the crucial last group D match against former World Champions, Argentina.
Ommenting on the incident Tuesday, the former FC Chelsea midfielder disclosed that “following various speculations about recent occurrence with my father, I can confirm I had to suppress emotional trauma to lead Nigeria out against Argentina last Tuesday 26th June in Saint Petersburg.
“Four hours before kickoff, I received a call from Nigeria that my father Pa Michael Obi had been kidnapped for the second time while he was on his way to a funeral in South-eastern Nigeria from Jos when he was abducted along the Makurdi-Enugu expressway.
“I was emotionally distraught but had to make a decision about whether l was mentally ready to play the game.
“I was confused and 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 and I did not want to discuss it with the coach because it may 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. Thankfully he is now safely released less than seven hours ago (Monday afternoon) I thank the Police authorities for their rescue efforts and support from friends and family members,” narrated Tuesday morning.
THISDAYSports recalled that, it was the second time that Senior Obi will suffer similar fate after the first time in 2011 within Jos metropolis while Mikel Obi was still plying his trade with Chelsea in London.
It was also observed that, the Super Eagles captain was closed to tears in a post match interview with the tournament official television as he wiped his face continually and was not coherent during the short interview. Most observers would have thought the player was only reacting to the disappointment of the team not being able to hold on to the game advantage with less than four minutes left to play.