The footballing world was shocked and horrified late Monday night/early Tuesday when news of an airplane transporting the Brazilian Chapecoense football team, along with staff and journalists, from Brazil to Colombia to compete in the final of the Copa Sudamericana crashed, killing 75 people on board. Most of the internet experienced this tragedy with an outsider’s sympathy, but for Liverpool stalwart Lucas Leiva, it was much more personal. The Brazil native, who played the early part of his career in his home country, knew several of the players who perished on that flight.
On Tuesday evening, Liverpool hosted Leeds United at Anfield for the quarterfinal of the EFL Cup, and not only was Lucas scheduled to play, but he was tapped by Klopp to captain the young side.
Lucas knew some of the #Chapecoense players on the plane. He asked #lfc if he could wear black armband tonight. Klopp said all players would— Henry Winter (@henrywinter) November 29, 2016
Despite what had to be an incredibly emotional day, and at a time when Brazil has declared three days of mourning to honor those who lost their lives, Lucas put in a professional performance playing alongside Ragnar Klavan at center-back. Liverpool beat Leeds United 2-0 in order to advance to the two-legged semi-final of the EFL Cup.
After the game, Lucas paid tribute to the victims and admitted that it had been a difficult game for him.
“It was a terrible accident,” he said. “I have a few people that I played with from young players and it was very hard for me to play tonight, I know a lot of people there. We just hope the families have the support that they need and the victims rest in peace.”