Emotional moment Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp embraces Luis Diaz
Emotional moment Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp embraces Luis Diaz on the pitch after star unveiled message calling for kidnappers to release his father – as teammates say they ‘feel his pain’ and hail his ‘character and inner strength’
Luis Diaz hugged Jurgen Klopp on the pitch before the heartbroken Liverpool star again begged Colombian Marxist terrorists to release his father after he was kidnapped at gunpoint nine day ago.
The 26-year-old winger scored an extraordinary and ’emotional’ late equaliser at Luton Town yesterday, raising his shirt to reveal a message demanding ‘Libertad Para Papa’ – ‘Freedom for Papa’.
Diaz’s manager Klopp was among those who embraced him at Kenilworth Road after the final whistle blew. Both home and away fans then clapped him off the pitch, where he showed his vest again and pointed to the sky as he walked down the tunnel.
Afterwards Diaz released another appeal for the safe release of his father, who is being held by Colombia’s anti-government ELN group in the far north of the country in mountains bordering Venezuela. He said: ‘Every second, every minute we’re more worried’.
Luis Manuel Diaz was snatched by armed men on motorbikes at a petrol station in the town of Barrancas, northern Colombia, on October 28. Diaz’s mother, Cilenis Marulanda, was also taken but released within hours.
The footballer is expected to fly back to Colombia next week, having originally been advised not to because of security fears. The ELN guerrillas say they are ready to release his father but say Colombian military searching for him are delaying it and making it dangerous.
Jurgen Klopp embraces Luis Diaz at Kenilworth Road yesterday, where he scored a late equaliser to snatch a point as his father remains captured in Colombia
Diaz raised his shirt to reveal a message: ‘Libertad Para Papa” (Freedom For Dad)’
Diaz was cheered from all sides at full time, raising his arms in recognition has he followed Klopp down the tunnel
Diaz’s (left) father Luis Manuel (right) is still to be released by left-wing rebel group ELN – but the head of the guerrilla group is reported to have said they made a ‘mistake’ holding the father. His mother Cilenis Marulanda (centre) was released
In a post shared on Instagram and Twitter, he said: ‘This is not Luis Diaz the player speaking. Today I am the son of Luis Manuel Diaz. My dad is a hard-working family man. I ask ELN to release my father as soon as possible.
‘Every second, every minute we’re more worried. We’ve no words to describe our family’s terrible feelings, it will be the same as long as he’s not back at home.
READ MORE: Luis Diaz’s nightmare: Inside the ELN terror group based in the Colombian countryside who kidnapped the Liverpool striker’s parents
Nine days passed since the parents of Liverpool footballer Luis Diaz were kidnapped by the Colombian Guerilla group ELN
‘I beg you to release my father right now, respecting his integrity.’
Jurgen Klopp paid tribute to Luis after he came off the bench to score his ’emotional’ equaliser at Luton.
In his first appearance since the kidnap of his parents back in his homeland Colombia last weekend Diaz netted in the 95th minute to earn Liverpool a point.
Diaz’s mother Cilenis Marulanda was freed on the same night his parents were snatched off the street though his father Luis Manuel Diaz has yet to be released – the ‘real problem,’ Klopp reminded, that is not yet resolved despite ‘positive, optimistic’ signs.
Diaz revealed a t-shirt bearing the message ‘freedom for papa’ after scoring while he was embraced by Luton captain Tom Lockyer and Klopp at full time.
Klopp said: ‘It’s wonderful, its emotional and its fantastic but the real problem is not sorted because of that.
‘We want to give and he wanted to as well, Lucho the opportunity to be a little bit distracted from things.
‘He cannot do anything. He is waiting all the time, the whole family is waiting all the time. He trained a few times with us and was then in a good mood and it’s good for him.
‘The signs from Colombia are rather positive, optimistic but not the one thing we want to hear didn’t happen yet’.
When asked how his star was emotionally after the game, Klopp said: ‘After the game, there was no words necessary. We just gave each other a hug, that’s all. You know how he is. Ok, but desperately waiting for the right news.
‘I understand 100 per cent it’s a nice story. It is super positive and great for him but these things go by.
‘The real information we need is different information. It [scoring] is a really, really positive thing for him but all the other problems stay the same.’
Second-half substitute Diaz headed home a Harvey Elliott cross in time added on on Sunday
He looked pensive before kick off but played a crucial role. His teammates praised his bravery
Diaz’s mother (centre) led a community march demanding her husband’s release last Tuesday
The Liverpool star’s mother (above in 2019, centre) was rescued after the pair were snatched off the streets of Colombia last week, but his father’s whereabouts are still unknown
Liverpool’s Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson hailed Diaz’s strength to play, and said his teammates are rallying around him.
He said: ‘It says a lot about his character, about his inner strength. Not many people [can] imagine what he is going [through] now, even as we are close to him, of course we are supporting him.
‘We feel his pain but for him it’s a different level. Football sometimes in dark moments can bring joy to people, can bring joy to somebody who is struggling. And I think football is bringing a slice of joy to Lucho at this time.
‘We are together with him for whatever he needs, to take his time. He came, trained, came to the game, scored a fantastic goal for us that was really important. We are with him 100 per cent.’
Mail Sport revealed today that Diaz will not be punished for revealing the message for his father under his shirt.
FA rules state players cannot lift shirts to reveal personal messages.
Colombian police have been searching for Diaz’s father who was seized at gunpoint
There are now 150 military personnel on the ground in Barrancas to speed up his release. The ELN say this is slowing it down
However, given the exceptional circumstances- and the fact the 26-year-old did not fully remove his shirt – Mail Sport understands bosses will not bring charges.
The guerilla group holding Luis Diaz’s dad hostage has pledged to ‘keep its word’ and free him after the footballer issued an emotional appeal to the criminals following his stoppage-time equaliser against Luton yesterday.
The left-wing ELN said it understood the anguish of his family in its first official statement since promising the world nearly four days ago it had started the process of securing Luis Manuel Diaz’s release.
But it went on to accuse the government of complicating things with the response triggered by the kidnap nine days ago when it swamped areas like the Perija Mountains near Barrancas in Luis’s home region of La Guajira with elite police and soldiers.
The group insisted it needed ‘security guarantees’ before freeing the 58-year-old.
The statement appeared to confirm speculation the hostage-takers are concerned for their own safety if they hand Mr Diaz over.
ELN chiefs released their new pledge after the Liverpool star broke his silence about his dad’s kidnap with an emotional social media message begging the group to release him promptly.
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