Chelsea's Mikel pleads for safe return of dad

Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel appealed to kidnappers on Monday for the safe return of his father after...

Chelsea Football Club

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Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel appealed to

kidnappers on Monday for the safe return of his father after he was abducted in

Nigeria

last week.

The 24-year-old Nigeria

international played in Sunday's season-opening 0-0 draw at Stoke City

despite knowing his father Michael was abducted on Friday.

In an interview with Sky Sports News, Mikel

said: "We haven't heard anything, no phone calls, nothing.

"Whoever has got my dad or knows where

my dad is please contact me and hopefully he will be released. Please let him

go -- my dad is an old man and he hasn't done any harm to anyone as far as I

know and I don't know why he has been taken.

"This happens a lot, not in the northern

part of Nigeria

but in the eastern part. It's a very safe place where we live in Jos, I think

it's a first that my father has been taken in the northern part," the

midfielder added.

His father's house in Jos was abandoned and

the local police told Reuters they were investigating the disappearance but

most of the local law enforcement were focussed on dealing with a burst of

religious unrest in the region.

At least 10 people were killed on Monday in

the area around Jos when Christian and Muslim youths and the military clashed,

local officials said.

Jos lies in the central "Middle

Belt" of Africa's most populous nation,

where the largely-Christian south meets the mostly-Muslim north, and has often

been the scene of deadly religious violence.

Mikel, who has never managed a Premier League

goal for Chelsea,

came close to scoring against Stoke with a long-range volley that goalkeeper

Asmir Begovic tipped over the crossbar.

"It was really difficult. I spoke to the

manager (Andre Villas-Boas) who asked me if I wanted to play the game and I

said I wanted to play," explained Mikel, who joined Chelsea in 2006 and won a league winner's

medal last year.

REAL SHOCK

"I didn't want to let my team down or

the club down or my family. If I didn't play I think my mum would have been

very sad with me.

"I've told some of my team mates today

but most of them didn't know on Sunday. I didn't want everyone coming up to me

saying 'oh sorry Mikel', I just wanted to get on with the game."

Chelsea's

young player of the year in 2007 said everyone back home knows he is a

professional footballer.

"We live in a very safe and secure

place in Nigeria

so this is a real shock to me," said Mikel. "Me and my brother (in England) still

cannot believe it.

"I don't know what to do at this point.

It is very difficult for me."

Mikel said he would like to return to Nigeria but had been advised on safety and

security grounds to remain in England.

Earlier, his management company The Sport

Entertainment & Media Group said no ransom demand had yet been received

from the kidnappers.

Chelsea

said in a statement: "We will give Mikel and his family our full support

at this most difficult time."

It is not the first time a relative of a

Premier League player has been abducted in Nigeria after former Everton

defender Joseph Yobo's brother was kidnapped in 2008.

Kidnapping of oil workers in the southern

Niger Delta has been relatively common in the past but abductions have begun

spreading further north.