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Luiz Díaz begs for release of kidnapped father after scoring stoppage-time equalizer for Liverpool

By George Ramsay, CNN

(CNN) — Liverpool player Luis Díaz has pleaded for his kidnapped father to be released back to his family in Colombia.

Díaz made the appeal hours after coming on as a substitute and scoring a late equalizer during Liverpool’s 1-1 draw against Luton Town on Sunday.

Last week, a delegate for the National Liberation Army (ELN), a Colombian rebel group, said that they have Díaz’s father, Luis Manuel Díaz, captive and will release him “as soon as possible.”

“Every second, every minute, our anguish grows; my mother, my brothers and sisters and I are desperate, anxious and without words to describe what we’re feeling,” Díaz wrote on X, formerly Twitter, after the Premier League game.

“This suffering will only end when we have [my father] back home. I beg that they [the ELN] release him immediately, respecting his integrity and ending this painful wait as soon as possible.

“In the name of love and compassion, we ask that you reconsider your actions and allow us to recover him.”

Díaz’s mother, Cilenis Marulanda, was also kidnapped from a gas station in the family’s hometown of Barrancas, located in Colombia’s northern La Guajira region, but later rescued.

A major police and military search operation for Díaz’s father is ongoing.

The 26-year-old forward traveled back to Colombia after his parents’ kidnapping and returned to the UK ahead of Liverpool’s game against Luton.

In the fifth minute of stoppage time, not long after being brought on as a second-half substitute, Díaz headed in Liverpool’s equalizer from Harvey Elliott’s cross.

He celebrated by paying tribute to his father, lifting his top to reveal an undershirt with the words “Libertad para papa” – “Freedom for dad.”

In his statement on X, Díaz added: “I ask the ELN for the prompt release of my father, and to all the international organizations that they get involved for his freedom.”

After the game, Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp said that the goal was “wonderful,” “emotional,” and “fantastic” for Díaz, but added that “the real problem is not sorted.”

He continued: “I think the signs from Colombia are rather positive, optimistic, but the one thing we all want to hear, it didn’t happen yet.”

Tahith Chong had given Luton the lead at Kenilworth Road before Díaz’s late goal, finishing off an excellent counter-attacking move.

The draw moved Liverpool up to third in the Premier League table, while Luton climbed out of the relegation zone to 17th.

™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Patrick Sung and Ilse Borrero contributed to reporting.

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