'Every minute our anguish grows': Luis Diaz makes plea to father's kidnappers

Liverpool forward Diaz makes a goalscoring return against Luton as head of ELN group in Colombia acknowledges the organisation made a 'mistake' by taking his parents

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Colombia international Luis Diaz has begged his father's kidnappers to release him after scoring on his return to action for Liverpool on Sunday.

Diaz's mother and father were abducted in their home town of Barrancas, near the Venezuelan border, on October 28 by members of the National Liberation Army (ELN), a guerilla group that has fought a 60-year conflict in the South American country.

Diaz's mother Cilenis Marulanda was rescued within hours of her capture last week, but the search goes on for his father Luis Manuel Diaz.

On Saturday, the head of ELN acknowledged the organisation had made a "mistake" in taking Diaz's parents.

After heading in a stoppage-time equaliser to prevent Liverpool suffering a shock defeat at Luton Town in a 1-1 draw on Sunday, Diaz displayed a T-shirt saying "libertad para papa" or "freedom for my father".

The 26-year-old published a statement on on X, formerly Twitter, following the match at Kenilworth Road asking the kidnappers to release his father "as soon as possible".

It read: “Today the footballer is not speaking to you. Today Lucho Diaz, the son of Luis Manuel Diaz, is speaking to you. Mane, my dad, is a tireless worker, a pillar in the family and he has been kidnapped. I ask the ELN for the prompt release of my father, and I ask international organisations to work together for his freedom.

"Every second, every minute our anguish grows," Diaz added.

"My mother, my brothers and I are desperate, distressed and without words to describe what we are feeling. This suffering will only end when we have him back home.

"I beg you to release him immediately, respecting his integrity and ending this painful wait as soon as possible."

An 83rd-minute substitute, Diaz's big impact came in his first appearance for Liverpool since the kidnapping.

Reds manager Jurgen Klopp said football could act as a distraction for Diaz during this difficult time and that the club were with him "100 per cent".

“It’s wonderful, it’s emotional and it’s fantastic,” Klopp said.

“We wanted to give him the chance to be a little bit distracted from things. He cannot do anything, he’s waiting all the time and so he trained a few times and he was in a good mood, which is good.

“The signs from Colombia are positive and optimistic but not the one thing we want to hear.

“He brings the quality with the 15-20 minutes he played.

“I think not many people [can] imagine what he has going on now – even us, we are close to him of course, we are supporting him, we feel his pain, but for him it is 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 him at this time.

“We are together with him, for whatever he needs. He came, trained, came to the game, scored a fantastic goal for us that was really important and we are with him 100 per cent.”

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Updated: November 06, 2023, 9:58 AM