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Luis Díaz ordeal made it ‘most difficult game’ for Jürgen Klopp and Liverpool

Jürgen Klopp described Liverpool’s defeat of Nottingham Forest as the most difficult game he had ever prepared for after Luis Díaz’s parents were kidnapped in Colombia on the eve of the fixture.

Díaz left the team hotel upon hearing of the kidnapping on Saturday night and is being supported by Liverpool staff at home in England as Colombian police search for his father, also called Luis. His mother, Cilenis Marulanda, has been rescued. Colombian police said a reward of up to 200m pesos (£40,000) was on offer to anyone who provides information that leads to the release of the player’s father.

Díaz was unsurprisingly absent as Liverpool recorded a 3-0 win at Anfield in which Diogo Jota, his replacement, held aloft Díaz’s No 7 shirt after scoring the opening goal. Klopp admitted winning was the only way Liverpool could help their teammate, but the Díaz family’s ordeal was on his mind throughout the game.

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Liverpool show unity with absent Díaz as they sweep aside Nottingham ForestRead more

“The preparation was the most difficult I ever had in my life,” the manager said. “I didn’t expect it and I was not prepared for it. I don’t want to make the game bigger than it was but it was most definitely that we try to help Lucho with the fight we put in because obviously we want to help. We cannot really help so the only thing we can really do is fight for him and that’s what the boys did.

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“We heard about it late last night. Then we spoke to Lucho. He wanted to go home so we sent people with him; we had people there to take care. There is part of his family there [at Díaz’s home] as well. It’s why they want to be together. It’s absolutely understandable. Then we got the news about his mum which is absolutely fantastic. Since then, nothing really. They are working on it but it’s some distance. We are obviously not the first people that get informed but we try to get knowledge of everything, as much as we can, but we do not want to disturb in any way. We are not the important people there. We just want to support – that’s it.”

Klopp said he was unaware of the Liverpool players’ plans to celebrate with a Díaz shirt and found the tribute incredibly touching. “How can you make a football game really important on a day like this?” he said. “It’s really difficult. I never struggled with that in my life. It was always my safe place, sometimes my hiding point as a player or as a coach. You are allowed, during these 90-odd minutes, to focus just on that. And it was impossible, absolutely impossible, to do that today.

“It was clear we had to give the game an extra sense and it was fighting for Lucho. Then the boys pulled out the shirt and I was not 100% prepared for that to be honest. It was really touching, but wonderful as well.”

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