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Nigeria coach Rohr 'very surprised' to learn of Mikel kidnap ordeal

Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr has told KweséESPN that he was "very surprised" to learn that captain John Obi Mikel played their decisive World Cup game against Argentina while his father sat kidnapped.

Mikel's father, Pa Michael Obi, was kidnapped on the day of Nigeria's final World Cup group game on June 26, with the kidnappers threatening to kill the older man if word got out, and demanded $28,000 as ransom.

The former Chelsea player was contacted just hours before kickoff and told to remain silent, so he took to the field in St Petersburg having told neither his bosses nor his coach of the situation.

As a result, Rohr did not find out until news broke that Pa Obi had been rescued on July 2, six days after being abducted, along with his driver, while travelling to a funeral in Nigeria.

"I was very surprised to hear this," Rohr told KweséESPN. "I did not know about it because he did not tell me."

He then added: "But it shows that he has good mental strength to be able to play in this situation. He is a real leader."

Mikel, speaking to KweséESPN on Monday night, said he didn't tell Rohr because he didn't want his ordeal to be a distraction for the team ahead of such an important game.

But Rohr said that even if he had known, he would have left the decision about playing to Mikel: "If I know about it, I would let him decide. No pressure.

"I have full confidence in him to make the best decision for himself, his family and his country.

"It is shocking that such a thing happens to anybody. And to somebody who represents his country."

Pa Obi was rescued on Monday afternoon after a "gun duel" with the kidnappers, according to Nigeria Police's statement, and treated for injuries, but returned to hospital on Tuesday when some of his sutures broke.

This was the second time that Obi Sr. had been kidnapped in Nigeria, with the first instance in 2011 when he was held captive for 10 days before being released.


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