Mikel admits to paying ‘crazy money’ to save his kidnapped father


Former Super Eagles captain John Obi Mikel has spoken out about the tragic experience of his father’s kidnapping in 2018.

In an interview with Dubai Eye 103.8 Sport, Mikel said that he had to pay a “crazy amount of money” to secure his father’s release from the kidnappers.

The tragedy occurred just hours before Nigeria’s important World Cup encounter against Argentina in Russia. Mikel had learned that his father, Pa Michael Obi, and his driver, Ishaya John, had been kidnapped while traveling on the Markurdi-Enugu route.

Despite the gravity of the situation, Mikel set aside his personal anxieties to lead the Super Eagles to a magnificent performance on the field.

During the interview, Mikel recalled receiving the devastating news on the team bus to the stadium in St Petersburg. He explained that a family member had called him and told him to phone the kidnappers at a specific number. The former Chelsea footballer was then told he needed to pay a ransom to free his father.

“I was emotionally distraught, and I had to decide whether I was mentally prepared to play,” he explained. I was perplexed. I didn’t know what to do, but I knew I couldn’t let 180 million Nigerians down. I have to block it out of my mind and focus on representing my country first. I couldn’t even tell the coaches or NFF staff, and just a small group of my pals were aware.

“I was told that if I reported to the authorities or told anyone, they would shoot my father immediately.” I also didn’t want to address it with the coach [Gernot Rohr] because I didn’t want my problem to distract him or the rest of the team on such an important game day. “I couldn’t talk to the coach about it as much as I wanted to,” he explained.

“They [the kidnappers] said, ‘Listen, we know, Mikel will pay.'” If he doesn’t, we’ll shoot his father. They claimed to have nothing to lose. “They’d shoot my father and dump him somewhere,” Mikel Obi explained.

“It was dreadful. After the game, I called them again, tried to bargain with them, and spoke with them. They were calling for a stupid amount of money to begin with, and in the end, I still had to pay a ludicrous amount of money to get my father out.

“I’m still going through it. Even when I was having flashbacks, I had to call the boys. He was being held at gunpoint. They threatened to shoot and kill him. I haven’t told my kids about it, but they saw the news about it on my phone a few months ago. Obviously, I have not informed them because they are young,  7 years, but one day when they grow up, I will be able to share the story with them,” he said.

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