Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp described the build-up to Sunday's Premier League win over Nottingham Forest “the most difficult I've ever had in my life”.
Forward Luis Diaz returned home to Colombia ahead of the 3-0 victory at Anfield after it emerged that his parents had been kidnapped by armed men in South America.
The player's mother, Cilenis Marulanda, was found in Barrancas on Saturday but there is a major military and police search under way for his father Luis Manuel Diaz, who remains missing.
“The game preparation was the most difficult I've ever had in my life. I didn't expect that, I wasn't prepared for it,” said Klopp.
“I don't want to make the game bigger than it was, but definitely, we tried to help Luis with the fight we put in because obviously we want to help and we cannot really help.
“So the only thing we can do is fight for him and that's what the boys did.”
Liverpool secured their fifth straight home Premier League win to move three points behind leaders Tottenham but Klopp admitted that the importance of football felt secondary after the shocking news.
“How can you make a football game really important on a day like this? It's really difficult. I've never struggled with that in my life.
“We heard late last night about it. We spoke to Luis, he wanted to go home … Then we got the news with his mum, which is fantastic, and since then nothing really.
“We are obviously the first people to get involved and we try to have knowledge of everything as much as we can, but we don't want to disturb in any way the important people there, we just want to support, that's it.”
After the match, Klopp dedicated the victory over Forest to “our brother”, while Diogo Jota held up the Colombia player's number seven shirt after scoring Liverpool's first goal.
“Luis was with us in the hotel, then he went home. It's a very hard situation and I don't know how anyone would react if it happened to you,” Jota told the BBC.
“He was going to play. I played instead of him and I showed him his shirt to show we're with him and we hope everything works out.”
Diaz, who has played 43 times for his country, was signed by Liverpool in January 20222 in a deal reported to be worth £40 million. He has scored three times for Liverpool in all competitions this season.
Colombia's Attorney General Francisco Barbosa said on Sunday it was possible that Diaz's father was being taken to Venezuela, and ordered an investigation to look into the motives of the kidnapping and find those responsible.
“We have information that he could, at some point, be in Venezuela. If he ends up crossing the border and he's in Venezuela, we have to ask [Colombia] President Gustavo Petro … to help us with freeing Luis Diaz's father,” said Barbosa, who revealed that he had contacted Diaz twice to provide the 26-year-old with updates on the investigation.
Colombia's national police also announced a reward of $48,500 for any information leading to his rescue as more than 120 soldiers, plus police, search northern Colombia.