Chapecoense plane crash survivor eyes 2017 return to football

Rio de Janeiro, Jan 7 (IANS) Chapecoense plane crash survivor Neto has expressed a desire to resume his football career this year.

The 31-year-old central defender returned to the club’s Conda Arena on Friday for the first time since the November 28 crash that killed 19 of his teammates, reports Xinhua news agency.

“It is a very difficult situation,” Neto told a press conference. “I’d known some of those who died since the age of 17. I wish I were with them, but I have to face this.”

Seventy-one people died when the LaMia plane carrying Chapecoense’s squad crashed near Medellin, Colombia, just two days before the Brazilian team were due to play Colombia’s Atletico Nacional in the Copa Sudamericana final.

Neto, one of just six survivors, was the last to be rescued when he was hauled from the wreckage six hours after the crash. He suffered trauma to his skull, thorax and lungs, and was suffering from hypothermia.

He said he still needs to recover mentally and physically, but vowed to do all he can to play again this year.

“I have to recover because I suffered some serious injuries but sooner or later I had to come back here,” Neto said.

“First of all, I have to get back to full health and recovery mentally. I was in a coma for 10 days and I only found out about what happened 15 days after (the crash). But coming here is going to give me strength.”

–IANS

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