Chapecoense's Nivaldo to play one last game in tribute to fallen teammates
Chapecoense goalkeeper Nivaldo, who did not board the plane that crashed and killed 19 of the club's players, has put off his decision to retire immediately, preferring to play one more match to honour his fallen teammates.
Nivaldo, 42, was not selected in the squad that was due to play in the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final against Atletico Nacional in Medellin on Wednesday as he had wanted to make his 300th appearance for Chapecoense at home in the last match of the Brazilian league season against Atletico Mineiro on Dec. 11.
After the accident, Nivaldo said he would retire immediately, but now he wants to play against Atletico Mineiro in order to pay tribute to those that died.
"My teammates would want us to play that match," a teary and emotional Nivaldo said. "I just don't know how I could stand a full stadium with people calling the name of the players that died. We will have to try, I think. But that is going to be hard."
Nivaldo had previously explained to Globoesporte his reasoning for missing the flight.
"I was supposed to go on the trip but ended up staying," he said. "Everything has a reason in life. I didn't travel to Palmeiras because it would make my farewell game to play here against Atletico Mineiro, when I would complete 300 games for the club.
"As there was a change in the trip, they would not return to Chapeco and instead go straight from Sao Paulo to Medellin. So Caio [the coach] said he would not take me."
One of the three surviving Chapecoense players was Jakson Follmann, the second-string goalkeeper behind No. 1 Danilo, who died in the crash.
Authorities in Colombia said they had to amputate Follmann's right leg and he remains in hospital.
"I told Follmann I was going to stay here one more year to see him thrive," Nivaldo said. "He said he was going to carry me on his shoulders after my 300th game. That is not going to happen."