Chris Sutton opens up on traumatic ordeal after Luis Diaz praise

Chris Sutton hails Luis Diaz’s ‘strength of character’ as It’s All Kicking Off co-host opens up on his own traumatic ordeal which halted his Celtic career when his premature son died and came back to life after choking in car

  • Chris Sutton hailed Luis Diaz’s bravery after scoring for Liverpool against Luton 
  • He also revealed his own experiences balancing football with family matters 
  • Liverpool’s Luis Diaz is extraordinary – Listen here to It’s All Kicking Off podcast

Chris Sutton has revealed the emotional story of his son’s early life health issues after reflecting on Luis Diaz’s ongoing struggles.

Liverpool star Diaz scored a crucial equaliser for his side in their 1-1 draw with Luton Town, despite the ongoing search for his father, Luis Manuel, who was abducted along with his wife in their hometown of Barrancas near the Venezuelan border last Saturday. 

His mother was rescued hours later and returned to family but his father remains in the hands of ELN – with authorities now looking to accelerate the search for Luis Manuel. 

Diaz was included in Liverpool’s squad for the first time since the kidnapping for their trip to Kenilworth Road and revealed a T-shirt saying ‘freedom for papa’ after scoring.

The emotional moment was caught on camera and, speaking on Mail Sport’s It’s All Kicking Off podcast, Sutton and co-host Ian Ladyman were quick to praise the winger for his bravery before admitting a heartfelt personal tale.

Chris Sutton hailed Luis Diaz’s ‘strength of character’ before revealing his own experiences balancing football and personal matters throughout his playing career

Luis Diaz was included in the Liverpool squad for the first time since his father’s kidnapping for their trip to Luton, where he scored a crucial equaliser for the Reds

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Ladyman said: ‘Now, Liverpool’s equaliser was scored by Luis Diaz. His father is still missing in Colombia, kidnapped by a group who go by the name of the National Liberation Army.

He didn’t play last week because for obvious reasons. He came off the bench, he scores the equaliser and I happen to think, this is not hyperbole, I think that is the bravest thing I’ve seen from a footballer this season. 

‘If my father was in that situation, if I had that going on, I wouldn’t be at work. I wouldn’t be sitting here. I think that’s extraordinary what Diaz has done for his club’.

In response, Sutton hailed Diaz’s immense ‘strength of character’ before speaking on the terrifying ordeal that surrounded his son’s birth back in 2001.

‘I think it’s a massive strength of character, as much as anything. He might actually see going out and training and playing as a bit of escapism to try and take his mind off,’ Sutton explained.

‘From my own experience, I think there was only ever once where I missed a game and that was when my son James, who was premature… we nearly lost him. 

‘When I’d actually flown out to Valencia to play in a game for Celtic in the UEFA Cup. He was 28 weeks, he was a tiny baby.

‘We had him and he was in hospital for eight weeks, so that his organs could grow and so he could breathe properly. Anyway, he came out and we, as a family got back to normal.

Sutton revealed how he dealt with the premature birth of his son, James, back in 2001

Sutton revealed how the incident prevented him from playing a UEFA Cup match for Celtic

Diaz was embraced by manager Jurgen Klopp before he came on as a substitute on Sunday

‘Couple of weeks later, I’d flown out to play in Valencia and my wife was dropping the kids off at school and little James was choking in the car. My wife phoned me and we had an argument over the phone.

‘I was saying “Oh, take him home, he’ll be fine”. And she didn’t, her instinct was to take him to hospital and that was a good thing! We got to the hospital, he stopped breathing and the doctor actually took him away and said to my wife that you know, that he’d died and they’d brought him back.

‘This was on the morning of the game… I didn’t play! But it was probably the only time where I actually couldn’t think. It’s a different thing to Diaz but in terms of [your] head [being] everywhere, not thinking about football. 

‘Subsequently James was on life support for a number of days and then came out and was in a special unit. When he started to improve, I actually found football really good to get away from it’.

In the latest update regarding Diaz’s father’s kidnapping, the head of the rebel group that kidnapped the parents of the Liverpool star conceded they made a ‘mistake’ by not freeing his father. 

There are 150 uniformed military personnel in the area of Barrancas as authorities look to accelerate the release of Diaz’s father, with peace talks with the ELN, branded a terrorist group by the US government, continuing. 

Diaz’s (left) father Luis Manuel (right) is still to be released by left-wing rebel group ELN – but the head of the guerrilla group is reported to have said they made a ‘mistake’ holding the father

The Liverpool star’s mother (above in 2019, left centre) was rescued after the pair were snatched off the streets of Colombia last week, but his father’s whereabouts are still unknown

‘The retention of Luis Diaz’s father by the Northern War Front was a mistake,’ ELN commander Antonio Garcia wrote on his Telegram channel, according to AFP.

‘Lucho is a symbol of Colombia – that is how we in the ELN feel about him,’ Garcia added, using the nickname of the 26-year-old footballer, who returned to Liverpool training on Friday.

ELN, a left-wing rebel group, were identified on Thursday as the organisation responsible for Luis Manuel Diaz’s abduction.

The ELN group had promised to secure 58-year-old Mr Diaz’s release in a matter of hours after being identified as the culprits – but this has still to come to pass.

Now, in partnership with National Police, the air force and the army, 150 uniformed military personnel are in Barrancas to help facilitate a handover process.


It’s All Kicking Off is an exciting new podcast from Mail Sport that promises a different take on Premier League football.

It is available on MailOnline, Mail+, YouTube, Apple Music and Spotify.

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