Liverpool striker Luis Diaz, visibly emotional, shared a tearful reunion with his father, Luis Manuel Diaz, on Tuesday. The heartfelt meeting took place in Barranquilla, Colombia, where Luis had returned to join the national team for a World Cup qualifying match against Brazil.
The touching moment, captured by the Colombian Football Federation, depicted the father and son embracing amidst tears. Luis Manuel Diaz, 56, wore a black T-shirt with the poignant message: “No more kidnapping.”
The reunion marked the end of a 12-day kidnapping ordeal at the hands of Colombia’s ELN guerrilla group. Luis Diaz had returned to Colombia after the harrowing experience, which unfolded when his parents were abducted by armed men on motorcycles at a gas station in Barrancas, near the Venezuelan border, on October 28. While Marulanda, his wife, was rescued shortly after, a massive search operation ensued for Luis Manuel Diaz.
The FCF website conveyed the gravity of the situation, stating, “After 12 days deprived of freedom, this is the first contact of the player with his father and the rest of the family, who lived long moments of anguish.” The accompanying photo depicted the emotional reunion, with Luis Diaz’s young daughter seated on her grandfather’s knee.
The ELN, currently in peace negotiations with the government and observing a six-month ceasefire since August, characterized the kidnapping as a “mistake” by one of its units. After days of intense negotiations, the rebels handed Diaz over to humanitarian workers in a mountainous border area.
Luis Manuel Diaz, not just a father but also the founder and amateur coach of Barrancas’ sole football academy, played a pivotal role in his son’s rise. The elder Diaz, credited with supporting Luis’s journey from a young age, sometimes sold food he cooked himself to fund his son’s trips to Barranquilla for matches.
Known as “Lucho,” the young winger’s talent flourished, leading him from Barrancas to Porto and eventually to Liverpool. With 43 appearances for his country, Luis Diaz stands as the first Indigenous Colombian to ascend to the pinnacle of world football.