When the news broke on Tuesday morning of the plane crash that carried the Brazilian side Chapecoense to Colombia to play what was arguably their biggest game in their history – the final of the Copa Sudamericana (the South American equivalent of the Europa League) – I, like everyone else, was in utter shock.
The Santa Catarina-based side were enjoying their biggest season in their history. In 2009, they were playing in Serie D, before being promoted to Serie C, where they played for three years. They were promoted to Serie B in 2012 and, after only one season, the club who only formed in 1973 as a result of a merger of two amateur clubs, were playing in Brazil’s top tier of football.
But this season was arguably the club’s biggest. They drew inspiration and similarities from the current Premier League champions.
— Chapecoense (@ChapecoenseReal) November 29, 2016
“Our team really reminds me of Leicester, a team from an unfancied city that was able to win an important title,” the late manager Caio Júnior said after a league win over giants Fluminense. “I want to make a mark this season with this club, this group of players.”
Indeed it was on the continental scale where Chape really made headlines. In the Copa Sudamericana, they surpassed even their own fans’ expectations and made it to the final, beating teams like Argentine giants Independiente and San Lorenzo on the way.
But then unimaginable tragedy struck.
Seventy one people died on that flight as it approached Medellin, including 21 journalists and almost the entire first team and managerial staff. The surviving players were defenders Alan Ruschel and Neto. Goalkeeper Jakson Follmann also survived but had to have one of his legs amputated, according to reports. Goalkeeper Danilo initially survived the crash, but later died in hospital from his injuries.
It’s an enormous loss. But I’m sure friends, families and supporters can take some comfort with the support the club has been receiving from the footballing community around the globe.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) November 29, 2016
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) November 29, 2016
— FIFA.com (@FIFAcom) November 29, 2016
Deeply affected by Medellin's plane crash. I shared locker with Cleber Santana and it's difficult to reveal how I feel. A huge hug. pic.twitter.com/TdeNzssZFN
— David De Gea (@D_DeGea) November 29, 2016
Just about the saddest thing imaginable. https://t.co/hbhW4di2N9
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) November 29, 2016
— Boca Jrs. Oficial (@BocaJrsOficial) November 29, 2016
— Atlético Nacional (@nacionaloficial) November 29, 2016
Nuestras condolencias a los familiares de los fallecidos en el accidente de avión del @ChapecoenseReal. Descansen en paz.
— Atlético de Madrid (@Atleti) November 29, 2016
— FC Bayern English (@FCBayernEN) November 29, 2016
— AC Milan (@acmilan) November 29, 2016
Terrible news about #Chapecoense Thoughts are with the family and friends of all connected.
— Joseph Barton (@Joey7Barton) November 29, 2016
Before training at Stamford Bridge tonight, the players paid their respects to all those who lost their lives in the tragedy in Colombia… pic.twitter.com/diKXD7k8rC
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) November 29, 2016
Our thoughts are with Brazilian club @ChapecoenseReal.
— Melbourne City FC (@MelbourneCity) November 29, 2016
Minhas orações a tragédia de hoje, peço a Deus que conforte os familiares, amigos e envolvidos. Meu mais profundo sentimento. pic.twitter.com/RWGF2F9CzJ
— Kaka (@KAKA) November 29, 2016
Brazilian football is in mourning. It is such a tragic loss. My sincere condolences to the families of the deceased. Rest in peace. pic.twitter.com/jfoTMUBWtN
— Pelé (@Pele) November 29, 2016
— David Villa (@Guaje7Villa) November 29, 2016
— PSG Officiel (@PSG_inside) November 29, 2016
It is a very sad day for the World of football. All my thoughts are with the families and… https://t.co/yLxpJ1gu1b
— Patrick Kluivert (@PatrickKluivert) November 29, 2016
Mi más sincero pésame para toda la familia del @ChapecoenseReal, día muy triste.
— Diego Pablo Simeone (@Simeone) November 29, 2016
My thoughts and affection are with the victims and families of the terrible tragedy of Chapecoense. RIP pic.twitter.com/ROkID7x9N1
— Carlo Ancelotti (@MrAncelotti) November 29, 2016
— Nico Gaitán (@nicogaitan) November 29, 2016
— Basti Schweinsteiger (@BSchweinsteiger) November 29, 2016
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