Liverpool footballer Luis Diaz was reunited with his parents on Tuesday following their release by kidnappers in Colombia.
Diaz arrived in Bogota before flying to Barranquilla – the national team base for Thursday's World Cup qualifier against Brazil – where he was greeted by his father Luis Manuel and mother Cilenis Marulanda.
The pair were seized at gunpoint on October 28 in Barrancas, in the northern La Guajira province by the National Liberation Army (ELN) and while Diaz's mother was freed within hours, his father was held for 12 days.
The 58-year was finally released last Thursday after negotiations between the government and the ELN. He said of his experience: “It was a lot of horseback riding, really hard, a lot of mountains, a lot of rain, too many insects.”
On social media on Tuesday, the Colombia Football Federation published pictures of the family's reunion alongside a short statement which read: “This was Lucho's exciting meeting with his father Mane Diaz and his family.
“We love you and we are more united than ever! We are all Colombians.”
Diaz missed Liverpool's Premier League win over Nottingham Forest on October 29 to return home after news of the kidnapping emerged, and manager Jurgen Klopp admitted the build-up to the match had been “the most difficult I've ever had in my life”.
“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,” the German added.
With his father still missing, Diaz came on as substitute during Liverpool's game at Luton Town on November 5 and scored a late equaliser to earn his team a point.
The 26-year-old celebrated the goal by revealing a T-shirt underneath his strip that read ‘libertad para papa’ or ‘freedom for my father’.
Following the match at Kenilworth Road, Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker described how football could bring light in dark times.
“Not many people can imagine what he has going on now – even us,” said the Brazilian. “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.”
A short time later, Diaz published a statement on social media asking the kidnappers to release his father “as soon as possible”. “Every second, every minute our anguish grows,” he added.
Finally, the ordeal came to an end last Thursday when Diaz Snr was released to a delegation composed of officials from the United Nations and the Catholic Church almost two weeks after he was kidnapped.