Christian Obodo, Kidnapped Nigerian Soccer Star, Rescued by Police

Nigerian police rescued soccer player Christian Obodo on Sunday evening, a day after the athlete had been kidnapped in the oil-rich southern delta.

The Nigerian-born soccer player was kidnapped on the morning of June 9 in Delta state Warri while on a visit to his native homeland. He was kidnapped by gunmen outside a church in his hometown.

Police have not commented on what led them to Obodo's kidnappers who were hiding with the athlete in Isoko, just outside Warri, Delta State. Several of the soccer player's kidnappers were arrested upon his rescue.

Obodo's family had been contacted by his kidnappers seeking a ransom $187,500.

"This is a sad thing. Christian Obodo served this country patriotically and without blame when he played for the senior national team, (the) Super Eagles," Nigeria Football Federation President Aminu Maigari said in a statement following the abduction.

"The only thing we can do is appeal passionately to the kidnappers to let him go. He is a young patriot who should not go through this kind of experience," Maigari added.

The 28-year-old defense midfielder currently plays for the Italian soccer club Udinese Calcio and has represented his country at the 2003 LG Cup and at a 2004 ANC qualifier game.

Kidnappings are common in Nigeria's Delta region, which produces millions of barrels of oil daily, but kidnappings of Nigerian nationals for ransom have become more common in recent years. Other Nigerian soccer players, including Joseph Yobo, the captain of the Nigerian national team, and John Obi Mikel, who plays as a Chelsea midfielder, have had family members kidnapped in the past several years.