John Obi Mikel's father has been released by the kidnappers who abducted him 11 days ago, the Chelsea midfielder's agent confirmed last night. Local police said five suspects had been arrested.
After Michael Obi was abducted in central Nigeria on 12 August, Mikel received a "sizeable" ransom demand, but despite this continued to play for Chelsea and made public appeals for his father's safe return. Michael is thought to have been found in Kano, 180 miles north of where he was abducted
"I was taken in an isolated area in Jos," said Michael. "I started begging them, yet they beat me mercilessly. There were five of them and they were dressed in military uniforms. They pushed me into a vehicle and began to drive very fast."
Kano police commissioner Ibrahim Idris said a team of officers had arrested five suspected kidnappers after a raid.
Mikel's management company SEM issued a statement confirming Michael's release. "SEM are delighted to confirm that Michael Obi called his family to advise them that he had been released. John Obi Mikel would like to thank everyone in Nigeria, his family and friends, Chelsea FC and their fans for their total support during this terrible time."
In London, the Valencia winger Juan Mata was undergoing a medical after Chelsea agreed a fee of £23.5m. The club said the deal was subject to Mata agreeing personal terms and passing the tests. PA