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Aug 15, 2011

Mikel appeals for father's safe return

Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel has appealed for information on the whereabouts of his father, who has been abducted in his native Nigeria.

• Mikel's father missing in Nigeria
• Stoke 0-0 Chelsea

Mikel played in Sunday's 0-0 draw at Stoke despite learning a day previously that his father had gone missing on Friday.

Speaking on Sky Sports News, Mikel said he and his family are yet to hear anything regarding his father's whereabouts or who might have taken him, and he made a direct appeal for his father's release.

''Please just let him go,'' he said. ''He's just an old man, he hasn't done any harm to anyone as far as I know and I don't know why he has been taken.''

Michael Obi, who runs a transport company, has not been seen or heard from since he failed to return home from work in Jos, the capital of Plateau State in central Nigeria.

With no contact made and no ransom demand yet received, Mikel is seeking information and help from anyone who can provide it.

"Nigeria is the country I am from, I've always tried to help my country in any way I can, playing for my country or anything,'' he said. "This is a time where I need the country to help me. Whoever has got my dad, whoever knows where my dad is, please contact me and hopefully he can be released.''

Mikel was told about the situation by Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas and his own agent after training on Saturday, and turned out at Stoke with only one of his team-mates - Salomon Kalou - aware of the situation.

"I was actually in having a massage when the manager sent for me,'' Kalou said. "I went to his office, he said, 'There is a situation, your dad is missing'. I didn't know about it, obviously. My family didn't want to tell me until after the game.''

Mikel said he asked for time to absorb the news but, after speaking with his family, he told Villas-Boas he still wanted to play.

"I was shocked,'' he said. "(Villas-Boas) asked me what I wanted to do, did I still want to go to the game. I told him I needed a couple of hours to speak to my family and my agent.

"I told him I would like to play the game because I wouldn't want to let my team down, let the club down and obviously let my family down. I think if I didn't play that game, my mum would be very sad with me. I spoke to my mum before the game and she told me to go out there and be strong...

"I don't think my team-mates really know about it at the moment,'' he added. "I told (Didier) Drogba about it today and before the game I told Kalou because he is a very good friend. But I didn't want everyone coming to me saying, 'I'm sorry, I'm sorry'. I just wanted to get on with it.''

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