John Obi Mikel has opened up on his father’s kidnapping in 2018 – revealing that former Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich offered to ‘send people over’ after hearing of his predicament.
Mikel’s dad Pa Michael Obi was held captive the day before the ex-Chelsea midfielder played in Nigeria’s huge World Cup clash against Argentina at the 2018 World Cup, with the player deciding to play on without telling his team-mates.
The 36-year-old, who is now retired, was speaking after the kidnapping of Luis Diaz’s parents in Colombia – with his mother quickly released but his father still being held hostage.
The Liverpool forward made an emotional plea for the Guerilla group responsible to release him after his equaliser for the Reds in a 1-1 draw against Luton – and he is expected to be handed back on Wednesday.
Mikel – whose father was later released after he paid the ransom – told Diaz he knows ‘exactly what he is going through’ as he recounted the emotional ordeal and the support he received while speaking to talkSport – and the surprise intervention of Russian billionaire Abramovich.
‘Chelsea were very supportive,’ he said. ‘I remember Roman [Abramovich] saying, “Do you want me to send people over? Because I know if I send people over, I can get your dad out”. I was like, “how are you going to do this?”
‘He said, “Don’t worry about that. Just let me, if you want that option, I can do it”.’
Mikel added: ‘Just knowing that my dad has been kidnapped again was absolutely heartbreaking.
‘I couldn’t leave the room. I couldn’t tell anybody. I was alone in the room for about 30 minutes, thinking what am I going to do? Shall I tell the manager? Shall I tell my teammates? Or should I make an announcement?
‘But we’re about to go into the biggest game of our lives. We’re about to play against Lionel Messi and Argentina.
‘So I thought about it. I was like, okay, you know what? I’m going to keep quiet. I called my mum and my brothers, everybody was crying on the phone.
‘They were saying no you shouldn’t go out and play because you’re not going to be able to perform well.
‘I took time on my own and I decided that I’m going to go out there and perform. I’m going to go out there and play.
‘So I didn’t tell anybody. I went on the pitch and I played. Sadly, we didn’t win the game and then after that I told everybody.
‘In the dressing room the manager and some of the players were almost in tears. They were saying, “you should have told us and you shouldn’t have played”.
‘I had my dad on the phone crying on the phone and saying can you give them what they want because I’ve been beaten up here and they’ve got a gun on my head every time saying they’re going to kill me. I managed to pay lots of money to get my dad released.
Speaking of Diaz, who has played on for Liverpool despite his own heartbreaking situation and received huge support from the club, he said he can relate hugely to what he is experiencing – urging him to ‘stay strong’.
‘I’m happy to see that Liverpool are very supportive,’ he said. ‘I must give credit to Liverpool for what they’re doing.’
‘I can relate to Luis Diaz and what he’s going through. This kind of situation is where you absolutely have nothing to do.
‘I know exactly what you’re going through and I hope he stays strong. I know it’s a tough time for him as a player. I know what his family as well are going through as well.
‘You have your brothers, you have your mum, you have your sisters and what they will be going through is absolutely heartbreaking.
‘My message to him is stay strong and do all you can to make sure that your dad is released.’