On Sunday, when John Obi Mikel stepped on the pitch for Chelsea's opening match of the season, he'd already received the news that his father had been kidnapped in Nigeria. In a statement released by the player, Mikel notes that kidnappings are, unfortunately, common in his home country, they typically occur in the eastern region. Kidnappings in the north of Nigeria are quite rare, but apparently people knew who Mikel was, his connection with Chelsea, and, most importantly, who his father is. Michael Obi has not been seen since Friday evening.
The fact that Mikel managed to play all 90 minutes of the match against Stoke City is a testament to the player's mental strength: "My mother would have been sad with me [if I had not played]. I did not want to let the team or the club or the fans down." Now, however, the midfielder has been granted compassionate leave for next week's match against West Bromwich Albion -- although Mikel has been advised that it would be unsafe for him to return to Nigeria.
What a tragedy. I think it's safe to say that the thoughts of the football community are with Mikel and his family today, hoping for his father's safe return.