For all the privileges that come with being an international sports star, there will always be dangers associated with widespread celebrity acclaim.
Now John Obi Mikel is the latest victim of athlete notoriety.
The Chelsea midfielder was suiting up for the team’s Premier League opener Sunday when he was informed his father was missing from his home in Nigeria and is suspected to have been abducted.
Miraculously, Mikel decided to play in his team’s match against Stoke City — a 0-0 draw — anyway. On Monday, he went on television to appeal for his father’s release.
In his televised announcement, Mikel told Sky Sports News:
“I have always tried to help the country in every way I can, playing for the country, serving the country. This is the time for the country to help me in this situation. I am just going to say, whoever has got my dad, whoever knows where my dad is, should please contact me and hopefully he should be released.”
Plateau state police commissioner Dipo Ayeni told The Associated Press that Mikel’s father, Michael Obi, reportedly disappeared from Nigeria’s capital of Jos on Friday and has not been seen since 6 p.m. that evening. No ransom demands have been made to this point.
Obi’s kidnapping follows another similar case from 2008 when the younger brother of Everton’s Joseph Yobo was abducted by a pair of gunman in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. He was released about two weeks later.
A June Fobres magazine survey listed Mikel as the seventh-highest paid African player in Europe with a salary of $5.8 million per year.