Colombia's Luis Diaz celebrates scoring his side's second goal against Brazil during a qualifying soccer match for the FIFA World Cup 2026 at Roberto Melendez stadium in Barranquilla, Colombia, Thursday, Nov. 16, 2023.

Pass the tissues – Luis Diaz has given us football’s most beautiful moment of 2023

It was one of those nights to leave goosebumps on your skin and your tear ducts looking like Niagara Falls.

Never mind that Colombia had beaten Brazil in a World Cup qualifier for the first time, coming from behind to win 2-1 and leave the carnival crowd in Barranquilla feeling ecstatic.

Never mind that their chances of qualifying for the 2026 finals, after missing the last edition in Qatar, have been significantly enhanced. The World Cup would benefit from Colombia’s presence, with their salsa, skill and sexy celebrations.

None of that mattered. Luis Diaz and his father were all that mattered.

The match against Brazil was played amidst the emotional backdrop of Diaz’s long-awaited reunion with his father after he had been kidnapped and held hostage for 13 days by Colombian guerrillas.

Both father and son were in tears as they laid eyes on each other, having spent too long resigning themselves to never having the pleasure of each other’s company again.

“God bless this beautiful family, I hope that they never have to go through something like this again,” tweeted one user in response to the emotive images, “nor will any family in Colombia, because we are not condemned to live like this.”

“Thank you God for allowing us to be together again as a family,” posted Diaz himself.

Luis Manuel was in the stands on Thursday, wearing Colombia’s distinctive yellow shirt, as his son played like a man possessed, creating 10 goalscoring opportunities alone but finding himself thwarted by club team-mate Alisson.

But Brazil’s rearguard couldn’t sustain the semblance of resistance – a brace of well-taken headers from Diaz won the match for Colombia and the hearts of everyone, everywhere.

Diaz burst into tears as he dedicated the win to his father who was celebrating emotionally in the stands.

“I thank God,” the emotionally drained star said after the game. “He makes it all possible. We have always lived tough moments, but life makes you strong and brave. So is soccer and so is life. We deserved this victory.”

There was an emotional cameo with Alisson after the game, with the losing goalkeeper eschewing convention and giving his club team-mate the biggest of bear hugs.

“He is a friend, he suffered a lot these days. This is beyond football, he deserves it,” the Liverpool keeper said in his post-match interview.

“Alisson told me he’s very happy because he knows what we went through,” Diaz confirmed.

“He is a great person, I admire him a lot because off the field he is a great human being and he gave me all the support I could have to be calm in those difficult moments.”

Diaz and Colombia face Paraguay on Tuesday in the next step of their campaign to qualify for the 2026 World Cup.

But Alisson had it right; yesterday was ‘beyond football’ and an affirming reminder of life’s fragility and beauty. World Cup qualification pales into insignificance in such a context.

By Michael Lee

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