English Premiership

Chelsea star's dad kidnapped

2011-08-15 13:29
John Obi Mikel (File)
London - The father of Chelsea and Nigeria midfielder John Obi Mikel has been abducted in his homeland, the player's representatives said in a statement on Monday.

Michael Obi, who runs a transport company, was seized on Friday, Sport Entertainment and Media Group said.

Mikel, 24, played from start to finish in Chelsea's opening English Premier League match of the season, a 0-0 draw at Stoke City on Sunday, knowing that his father had gone missing.

"SEM confirms that client John Obi Mikel's father was abducted in Nigeria on Friday, August 10," the firm, Sport Entertainment and Media Group, said. "Thus far no ransom demand has been received."

The player was informed of the situation before Chelsea's match against Stoke but decided to play "so as not to let down his team and family," the management company added.

There has been no trace of Obi senior since he failed to return home from work in Jos, the capital of Plateau State in central Nigeria.

Mikel's agent John Ola Shittu said the family had not heard from anyone claiming to hold his father captive, according to the BBC.

"It's been tough for the young man," Shittu said of the 24-year-old Nigerian international.

"The family in Jos reported him missing at the police station... but we're taking all necessary measures to find him.

"We've told him to be brave and to stay calm."

Kidnappings are common in Nigeria. They have turned into big business in the Niger Delta and the southeast with abductors often demanding ransoms from their victims or their families.

Mikel is not the first Premier League player to have a family member go missing in Nigeria.

In July 2008, the elder brother of Everton defender Joseph Yobo was kidnapped in the oil city of Port Harcourt, the capital of the southern Rivers State.

Nornu Yobo was released after 10 days but it was never made clear whether a ransom was paid.

Mikel has won the 2009/10 Premier League title, three FA Cups and one League Cup with Chelsea.

The Chelsea number 12 was named the African young player of the year in 2005.

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