Luis Diaz made a remarkable comeback for Liverpool as he equalized in the 95th minute to draw 1-1 with Luton Town in the Premier League on Sunday as he awaits the promised release of his father, who was kidnapped by Colombia’s National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrillas. .
After his late goal, Diaz lifted his Liverpool shirt to reveal a message underneath which read: ““Libertad Para Papa” (Freedom for Father).
The Colombia international missed Liverpool’s last two matches after his mother, Silenis Marulanda, and father, Luis Manuel Diaz, were seized by armed men in northern Colombia. His mother was freed within hours and ELN guerrillas said on Thursday that they would free his father.
Manager Jurgen Klopp brought on the 26-year-old as Liverpool looked to claw their way back into the game against Premier League strugglers Luton, who went ahead shortly before Diaz was introduced for a goal by Tahit Chong.
However, Liverpool seemed to come away with nothing from a match they had dominated for the most part, with Diaz leaping highest at the back post to meet Harvey Elliott’s cross to head the ball past Luton goalkeeper Thomas Kaminski.
“A wonderful moment but it doesn’t change the situation. The most important thing is that his father is released,” Klopp said after the game. “It’s great that he wanted to stay here. A very important goal for us and very important and emotional for him, but that’s it.
“We knew he would be a threat. We didn’t know how long he would play because he had a few sessions with the team. But that’s not the most important part of today. He scored goals but we have to see something. Colombia’s improvement.”
The Colombian government said Thursday that the ELN was responsible for the forward’s weekend kidnapping.
ELN representative Juan Carlos Cuellar said in a video clip the group shared with Reuters at a community meeting that Diaz’s father would be released “as soon as possible.”
“It says a lot about his character, his inner strength,” Diaz’s teammate Allison said after the match. “A lot of people can’t even imagine what he’s going through. Football can bring joy in dark moments.”
The Colombian government’s peace delegation, which is negotiating with the ELN, said in a statement on Thursday that it was “officially aware” that the abduction “was carried out by a unit belonging to the ELN”.
“We demand that the ELN immediately release Mr. Luis Manuel Díaz and we now say that they are fully responsible for securing his life and integrity,” said Otti Patino, who leads the peace delegation.