Football

Gabriel.

Arsenal's Gabriel gives heartbreaking message over Chapecoense disaster

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This week's air disaster in South America has brought the football world together and it has affected many fans and players in a profound way.

Clubs and players all over the world have been paying tribute to the fallen players and coaches of Chapecoense with Arsenal defender Gabriel becoming the latest to give his thoughts on the disaster.

The 26-year-old stopper joined Arsenal in 2015 from Villarreal but began his career at Brazilian club Vitória, where he worked with Caio Júnior.

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Gabriel featured in Arsenal's EFL Cup clash with Southampton earlier in the week and took part in the minute's silence before kick off.

But after the final whistle he recorded an emotional speech for the club addressing the wider impact of the disaster and paid a touching tribute to his former coach, in which he delivered an important message.

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"This is really hard to take. It is something we never imagine will happen with us or a close friend,” Gabriel said.

“I played for Vitória for five years and I worked with the coach and the backroom staff, and two other players as well. We were very close friends.

“The minimum I can do is send my condolences to all their families and wish that they can carry on. I ask for strength for this team that enchanted Brazilian football, a group that five years ago was in the fourth division and surprised everybody. We only have good memories to keep in our hearts from this team and the friends I made through football.”

Gabriel then revealed his regret at not getting in touch with his friend Caio Júnior when he had the chance and told others to not waste any time if they have something to say.

“We have a message group from Brazil and I texted them to say “don’t leave for tomorrow what you can do for today. I say that because on my last birthday [Saturday] I felt this urge to talk to Caio Júnior and for some reason I left it for another day and then this tragedy happens. So, if you think you want to do something, just get out there and do it because we don’t know what tomorrow brings.”

Coming together

A number of top flight clubs in Brazil have all asked for Chapecoense to be exempt from relegation for the next three years as well as offering to loan players to the club for free to help them get back on their feet.

Meanwhile, Colombian side Atletico Nacional, who Chapeocoense were due to play, have asked that the club be crowned champions as a gesture of good will.

It has been suggested by Colombia’s civil aviation authority that the plane carrying the team ran out of fuel before going down some 11 miles from José María Córdova airport.

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Topics:
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