Mikel recounts his father's kidnapping during the 2018 World Cup

Mikel Obi in action for Nigeria against Argentina

Mikel recounts his father's kidnapping during the 2018 World Cup

Faruq Ibrahim 16:52 - 07.04.2023

Former Super Eagles captain John Mikel Obi speaks on his father's 2018 kidnapping ahead of Nigeria's clash against Argentina at the World Cup.

Retired Super Eagles midfielder John Mikel Obi recalls the unfortunate tale of his father's kidnapping during the FIFA 2018 World Cup in Russia.  

The now 35-year-old former Chelsea player was the captain of the Super Eagles during the tournament, and he reveals details on his state of mind in the third group stage game against Argentina as a result of his father's abduction. 

What Mikel said

The 2012 Champions League winner was speaking in a program on DubaiEye 103.8 when he discussed the incident and his emotional state for the crucial game.

Nigeria had lost to Croatia, but their win against Iceland meant a win or draw against Argentina would see the Super Eagles into the knockout round of the World Cup, as Argentina failed to win their first two group-stage games. 

In the interview with the radio station, the 2005 Youth Championship silver medalist revealed that shortly before the crucial encounter, he received a phone call from his brother, who informed him that his father had been kidnapped.  

Mikel, who was the captain of the team, explained that he was devastated by the news but had to keep it to himself to avoid demoralising the team ahead of an important match. 

Mikel Obi captained Nigeria against Argentina in Russia 2018
Mikel Obi captained Nigeria against Argentina in Russia 2018

He narrated how he was distracted throughout the game, with thoughts of his father's safety flooding his mind and a wave of nausea engulfing him. 

"It was horrible, horrible. Two hours before the game, I got a phone call from my brother saying dad has been kidnapped," Mikel said.  

"I did not know where to begin or where to start. I remember I was getting ready [for the match], getting dressed, wearing my boots, and then my phone rang—it was my brother.

"He said, I know you are about to go play a game, but dad has been kidnapped. I said what!

"I spoke to him and asked for their demands, so I put my phone down; I thought I was going to throw up. 

"Who am I going to talk to? Shall I go tell the manager I cannot play the game? I took 20 minutes; I was trying to decide what to do and who to talk to, but I just couldn't talk to anyone. At the end of the day, I just decided I would go face it; I'm the captain of the country, and this is a very crucial game against Argentina.

"It was the last game for us; either we qualify or we go out, and for me to go share that news with the players, with the team, it's just gonna demoralise the players, demoralise the whole team.

"I decided to stomach it in, and not tell anyone, and go out and play the game and nobody knew about it and I just had to tell them after the game, and everyone was shocked, asking how the h*ell did you play the game"

He spoke to the assailants after the game, and according to him, he reached an agreement with them after negotiation and paid a "crazy amount of money" for his father's release.

Nigeria lost 2-1 to Argentina and were knocked out of the competition. 

Mikel Obi dejected after Nigeria's loss to Argentina
Mikel Obi dejected after Nigeria's loss to Argentina

Mikel on Osimhen

Meanwhile, Mikel Obi has said he believes compatriot Victor Osimhen would be a good fit for Manchester United as he is ready to make the step-up to the Premier League but noted a flaw in Osimhen’s current ability.

Mikel was quick to note Osimhen’s impressive performances this season and also suggested that the Super Eagles striker could be on the move to the Premier League this summer.

Mikel, however, in his honest assessment, pointed out a flaw, noting that Osimhen was not a technically gifted player, although he was still of the belief that the Napoli forward was someone that every club would love to have.

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