The father of Liverpool star Luis Diaz has revealed details of his captivity – and said he intends to keep living in Colombia despite his ordeal.
Luis Manuel Diaz was released on Thursday after spending 12 days in the hands of guerrillas.
During a press conference, the 58-year-old said his kidnappers had advised him to remain calm.
He said he had “almost 12 days without sleep” and had to endure “a lot of quite difficult horseback riding, lots of mountains, rain”.
“Even though the treatment was good, I didn’t feel very comfortable,” he said.
He and his wife were abducted by armed men on motorcycles at a petrol station in the town of Barrancas, near Colombia’s border with Venezuela on Saturday October 28.
The 26-year-old footballer’s mother, Cilenis Marulanda, was rescued within hours by police after roadblocks were set up.
Officials said they could not rule out the possibility that he had been smuggled over the border – meaning he would have been out of reach of Colombian police.
A reward of $48,000 (£39,000) had been offered for information leading police to the hostage.
The Liverpool winger had pleaded with his father’s captors to release him – and said he and his brothers were in a “desperate” situation.
Mr Diaz was eventually released by guerrillas from the National Liberation Army (ELN), according to the Colombian FA.
The capture stoked criticism of ongoing peace talks between the ELN and the government of leftist President Gustavo Petro, who is trying to put an end to Colombia’s six-decade internal conflict that has left more than 450,000 dead.
The government and the ELN began a six-month ceasefire in August.
What happened to Diaz’s parents?
Luis Manuel Diaz and his wife Cilenis Marulanda were snatched by armed men on motorbikes at a petrol station in the town of Barrancas, in La Guajira, near the border with Venezuela, on Saturday October 28.
She was rescued within hours after police set up roadblocks – but the whereabouts of her husband was unknown.
Otty Patino, who was leading the peace talks, said at the time: “We demand that the ELN releases immediately Mr Luis Manuel Diaz and we say as of now that they are entirely responsible to secure his life and integrity.”
The following Tuesday, the winger begged his father’s captors to release him – as his mother, uncle and other relatives took part in a vigil.
He posted an Instagram story with details of the event and the caption: “Bring your candle to light the light of hope – free him now!”
Special forces were deployed to search for Mr Diaz, with air and land patrols trawling a mountain range that straddles both Colombia and Venezuela – as Colombia’s police director vowed to use every agent to find him.
Officials said they could not rule out the possibility that he had been smuggled over the border – meaning he would be out of reach of Colombian police. A reward worth $48,000 (£39,000) had been offered for information that helps police locate Mr Diaz.
However, on Thursday November 9 he was handed back over to his family. Reports say he was handed over to the UN humanitarian commission, the church and medical personnel in the Serrania del Perija region.