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By ESPN Staff

Mikel claims family death threats made him play

Mikel John Obi claims threats made against his family forced him to play for Nigeria this week against the wishes of club manager Jose Mourinho.

The 19-year-old said he was in 'severe pain' following a 75-minute appearance for Chelsea in their 1-0 win at Charlton last weekend, and was advised by Stamford Bridge doctors not play for the Africans on Tuesday.

However, Mikel went against his club's advice to last the full 90 minutes as Nigeria crashed 4-1 to Ghana at Griffin Park.

Mourinho was reported to be furious with his participation in the match, and the Premiership champions have complained to FIFA as a result, but the teenager insists he was left with no choice.

'Nigerian fans were threatening my family back home,' he told The Sun. 'They believe I have started picking the games I play for my country.

'People are still angry that I didn't play in Lesotho for the 2008 African Championship qualifier in October.

'Only a few people know what I have been through at home in the past due to this situation. It was just too much for me to handle or control.

'It's a shame that things turned out this way but only God knows what would have happened to my family if I had stayed away from this game.'

The controversial midfielder is now most concerned with salvaging an already strained relationship with the Portuguese - who dropped the player earlier this season after questioning his attitude.

He added: 'Was Jose Mourinho angry with me for playing? Definitely. He was totally disappointed in me but I just hope I can explain things to him and then we'll see what happens.

'Hopefully he will understand what I have been through and the severe pressure I was put under.

'There was just too much pressure from the Nigerian football officials and, even though I tried to explain things to them, they refused to hear me out.'