Eight months after surviving a plane crash that killed most of of the Chapecoense football team, survivors, Helio Neto and Jackson Follmann who lost part of his leg in the accident, shared a moving symbolic kick off in a friendly against Barcelona.
Along with captain Alan Ruschel, Neto and Follmann were the only players to come out of the air crash alive. Seventy- seven passengers and crew which included players, officials and journalists were on the plane which went down in Colombia last year. In all six people survived.
It was an emotional night at Camp Nou, but it was more about overcoming the tragedy that had decimated their club than facing Lionel Messi’s Barcelona.
The game, for the Joan Gamper trophy, is Barcelona’s traditional curtain raiser for the new season
For Ruschel it was the first time in action on a football pitch since the crash:
“When I walked on to the pitch I saw a movie in my head. A movie showing all my battles so I could be here today. There were tough times. Times of losing and big scars left. So as I walked onto the the pitch I said thanks to all my teammates who aren’t with us anymore. I thanked them for the strength they gave me.”
The final score was five nil and the match commentator was a radio reporter who also survived the crash.