Luis Diaz ‘happy’ to start Liverpool match hours after kidnapped father’s release

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said the club was celebrating the “very, very good news” of Luis Diaz’s father’s release in Colombia and said the winger was “happy” to start the Europa League fixture against Toulouse on Thursday.

The Liverpool winger’s father Luis Manuel Diaz has been freed by Colombia’s National Liberation Army (ELN), 13 days after was seized by gunmen along with Diaz’s mother, Cilenis Marulanda, who was freed by police within hours.

Local media in Colombia reported that Diaz Sr was in a good state of health, with no signs of mistreatment. A post from Liverpool on the platform X said: “We are delighted by the news of Luis Diaz’s father’s safe return and we thank all those involved in securing his release.”

With the news confirmed by Colombia’s government the Colombia Football Federation, Diaz was named in Liverpool’s starting line-up for the trip to Toulouse. The 26-year-old made an emotional appeal for his father’s release after scoring a late equaliser for Liverpool in their 1-1 draw against Luton on Sunday.

“He is happy, and thumbs up all the time,” Klopp told TNT Sports before the match. “It looks good, very very good. So obviously timing-wise it could not have been better, if it’s today - great but let’s go in this game.”

On Diaz starting, Klopp said: “We asked him, he wants to and he will.”

Liverpool goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher said the Reds were “delighted” for Diaz after receiving the call of his father’s safe release.

“That’s our teammate, that’s our brother,” Kelleher told TNT Sports. “It’s hard with the situation that he’s in, but all we can do and we’ve tried to do is just be there for him and be around him and help him and support him however we can.

“To be coming in every day with the situation that’s going on I have so much respect for him and I think it was a nice moment for him to get that goal at the weekend.

“I think it (football) is just a distraction for him at the moment to be able to come in for a few hours every day with the lads.

“I think the whole team was delighted when he got that call.”

Local media in Colombia showed Diaz’s father at an airstrip in the city of Valledupar after he descended from a helicopter. Reports said Diaz Sr he would undergo a medical examination before being returned to his family.

Includes reporting from Reuters