Tottenham's Wilson Palacios' Brother Murdered By Kidnappers in Honduras
Bill Shankly once said “Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it's much more serious than that.”
It's something he eventually became quite ashamed with, and after the recent death of Wilson Palacios' brother, football can be seen for what it really is for many, a simple distraction.
Wilson Palacios left Spurs hotel in Liverpool at 07.00am an Saturday as his team prepared to meet Everton in a crucial match for the club. He received a phone call from his mother at 01.00am, telling him about the death of his 16-year-old brother Edwin.
He calmly packed his bags and then went down to the lobby to wait for his team to wake for their early morning meeting. He did not want to wake anyone, in case they did not get their required rest or in case they became distracted.
After meeting Harry Redknapp and then explaining his situation, he then asked permission to travel back to London so he could go home to Honduras.
Redknapp immediately contacted club officials and they organised as quick a departure as they could, giving Palacios an unlimited time off so that he can grieve with his family.
Kidnapping of sports-stars family members has become all too often a facet of life in South America. The kidnapping business has become a huge income earner for gangs and para-militaries over the past couple of years, and Colombia is now recognised as the kidnap capital of the world.
Kidnappings involving soccer players number at around 10 a year at the moment, and perhaps the highest profile one so far has been the kidnap and release of Robinho's mother in 2004.
In August 2007, Wilson Palacios, one of Honduras' most well known faces, travelled to England for a trial with Arsenal. His family had kept the move secret for fear of what might happen, but the ploy backfired somewhat after newspapers actually began reporting that Wilson Palacios had been kidnapped.
In the end his father had to contact the relevant papers and tell them where his son was, and this probably tipped off some members of the local 18th Street Gang that Wilson was looking for a big money move to Europe.
Steve Bruce then snapped him up for Birmingham City after Arsene Wenger's glowing reference, but then left for Wigan.
Unfortunately for Palacios, it was in October of 2007, that Edwin was kidnapped after five armed men broke into the family home and tied his parents up. With the kidnappers demanding ransom money, the Palacios family handed over £125,000 but Edwin was never released.
Wilson left Birmingham during this period and stayed with his family, but news that Steve Bruce wanted to sign him for Wigan meant that he had to go back to England.
It wa around this time that many false stories about Edwin's release began to surface. None of them true.
With Wilson impressing during his time with Wigan, it only became a matter of time before a bigger team came in for him. In January 2009, Tottenham under the guidance of Harry Redknapp payed £14m for the midfielders services.
In an attempt to seek Edwin's release, his mother Orfilia went on national television begging for her sons release, in case the impending transfer of his older brother strengthened their resolve.
They never received any more communications from the kidnappers or from Edwin who had been allowed the occasional phone call to reassure his parents, but hope remained.
Last week, Police in El Paraiso arrested two members of the 18th Street Gang, and following a confession, they unearthed the body of a young boy.
The body had been there for some time so it will have to undergo forensic tests before the identity is confirmed, but the body is believed to be Edwin's after his older brothers recognised his clothing.
The news will come as heart breaking for the family, Ofilia had only left London on Friday, after her first visit to England, and her family had been unable to contact her with the tragic news.
Bill Shankly's famous saying is used often. But when it really comes down to it, sport is far from being all important.
Moments like this bring home the truth, that life and family matter, and that sport should be treated in the manner for what it actually is. An un-important distraction.
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