Just two weeks ago, Barcelona star Lionel Messi along with the entire Argentina national team travelled in the same aircraft that crashed in Colombia on Monday night.
According to aviation specialist tracking sites, Messi and his Argentine teammates were travelling to San Juan for their World Cup qualifying match against Colombia which the hosts won 3-0. Messi had scored the opener in that match with a brilliant free-kick.
The crash killed 71 people and wiped out Brazil’s Chapecoense soccer team en route to a cup final in Colombia.
Only six people — three players, a journalist and two crew members — survived the crash on Monday night when Chapecoense’s charter plane, a BAe 146 made by BAE Systems Plc, hit a mountain en route to their Copa Sudamericana showdown in Medellin. Goalkeeper Jackson Follmann had his right leg amputated, said the San Vicente Foundation Hospital outside Medellin.
Messi did not know about the fact that he had travelled on the same aircraft that met a tragic end. Messi and his Barcelona teammate Neymar were the first to pay tributes to the players on social media.
Football legends Pele and Maradona as well as superstar Cristiano Ronaldo joined the football world paying tributes to the players of Chapecoense Real, a humble team whose march to glory — they entered the top tier of Brazilian league in 2014 — was cut abruptly short.
“The pain is terrible. Just as we had made it, I will not say to the top, but to have national prominence, a tragedy like this happens,” club vice-president Ivan Tozzo told Globo SporTV. “It is very difficult, a very great tragedy.”
Brazil have ordered three days of national mourning for the team.