Mikel John Obi was told that his father had been kidnapped and would be killed if he reported anything – just hours before he led Nigeria into their final World Cup group phase tie against Argentina.
The Nigeria captain received the shocking news as he travelled on the team bus to the stadium in St Petersburg last Tuesday. A family member called him and told him that he had to call the kidnappers on a designated number. When Mikel did so, he was ordered to pay a ransom.
Mikel has told the Guardian that he could not confide in anyone at the Nigerian Football Federation – partly because he did not want to be a distraction before the game – and how he asked himself whether he had the strength to play. Read more