Nigeria captain John Obi Mikel has revealed his father, Pa Michael Obi, was the victim of a kidnapping before the Super Eagles' World Cup group-stage clash with Argentina last Tuesday, but he refrained from telling anyone.
The former Chelsea told ESPN he was in receipt of a phone call from the kidnappers a mere few hours before the match kicked off in St Petersburg, and was asked to pay N10 million ($28,000 USD) in exchange for his father's life.
The kidnappers also threatened to shoot instantly if law enforcement were brought up to speed.
The player's father was on his way to a burial in Southeastern Nigeria, on June 26, when he was taken captive. But Nigeria Police have since confirmed that the senior Obi and his driver were rescued after a shootout with the kidnappers on July 2, a week later.
Mikel did not apprise his coach or anyone on the team of the situation before the match as he was unwilling to become a distraction.
"I was confused. I did not know what to do, but in the end I knew that I could not let 180 million Nigerians down," he said.
"I had to shut it out of my head and go and represent my country first. I was told that they would shoot my dad instantly if I reported to the authorities or told anybody.
"And I did not want to discuss it with the coach because I did not want my issue to become a distraction to the coach or the rest of the team on the day of such an important game. So as much as I wanted to discuss it with the coach, I could not do it."
His father, meanwhile, has been hospitalised as a result of being tortured. He also required multiple stitches but is presumably thankful for emerging from this ordeal alive.
This was actually the second time Mikel's father was kidnapped, with the first abduction occurring in 2011. Mikel's advisor has stated that security will be increased around the player's family in Nigeria.