Nigeria captain John Obi Mikel reveals his father was kidnapped hours before the 2018 World Cup clash against Argentina.
Mikel, who is playing for Tianjin TEDA, had to keep quiet about the incident after kidnappers demanded 10 million Nigerian naira (around £21,000) for the safe return of his father.
They threatened to shoot his father if the authorities were informed.
Speaking to The Guardian, Mikel stated he could not confide in anyone at the Nigerian Football Federation, partly because he did not want to be a distraction before the game.
Pa Michael Obi was travelling to a funeral in south-east Nigeria when he was abducted on June 26.
Fortunately, Mikel’s father was rescued almost a week later on July 2 and was taken to hospital for treatment.
“I was confused. I did not know what to do, but in the end I knew that I could not let 180 million Nigerians down,” Mikel said.
“I had to shut it out of my head and go and represent my country first. 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 I did not want my issue to 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.”