The father of Liverpool star Luis Diaz said he went “almost 12 days without sleep” and endured long horseback treks through mountain passes as he revealed the details of his kidnapping ordeal for the first time.
Luis Manuel Diaz, 58, was released by the guerrilla group Colombia’s National Liberation Army (ELN) on Thursday, nearly two weeks after he was captured at gunpoint along with his wife near their hometown of Barrancas in northern Colombia.
While Cilenis Marulanda was rescued by police within hours, Diaz Sr remained in the hands of his kidnappers and said he was told to remain calm. At a press conference in Barrancas, Diaz Sr said that although “the treatment was good, I didn’t feel very comfortable”.
“It was a lot of horseback riding, really hard, a lot of mountains, a lot of rain, too many insects,” said an emotional and weary Diaz Sr, speaking alongside his family near the Colombia-Venezuela border. “I couldn’t sleep peacefully, it was very difficult, almost 12 days without sleep.”
Despite the ordeal, Diaz Sr said he had no plans to move away from Barrancas and felt safe in Colombia. The father of the Liverpool forward said he did not understand why the ELN kidnapped him as he was not held to ransom.
"My aspirations are to continue in my town because I have my entire family in my town," Diaz Sr said.
"The government has given me impressively strong and great support. I trust and have faith that it will provide me security to be in Barrancas."
Liverpool winger and Colombia international Diaz had made an emotional appeal for his father’s release after scoring a late equaliser for Liverpool in their 1-1 draw against Luton last weekend
The 26-year-old marked the goal by revealing a T-shirt bearing a message in Spanish reading “Freedom for Dad’’ and then made a statement calling for his “prompt release”.
Diaz Sr said he spoke to his son after he was safely released by the kidnappers on Thursday and Diaz told him he was “happy” to play in Liverpool’s Europa League match against Toulouse that afternoon.
The Colombian police said it had arrested four suspects after investigating Diaz Sr’s kidnapping, while the head of the ELN has admitted it was a “mistake” to capture the Liverpool star’s father.