Chapecoense goalkeeper Nivaldo was left off out of the squad for the first leg of their Copa Sudamericana final in Colombia, a move that may have saved his life. The Chapecoense team plane crashed on the way to the match, killing 71 people on board. In the wake of that, Nivaldo has announced his retirement from the sport.
The 42-year-old Nivaldo was sitting on 299 appearances in the league and the plan was for him to hit 300 in the weekend’s game against Atletico Mineiro. With that in mind, the team decided to leave him at home for the Copa Sudamericana match to rest, be ready and celebrate.
“I was supposed to go on the trip but ended up staying," Nivaldo told reporters.
"Everything has a reason in life. I didn’t travel to Palmeiras (on Sunday), because it would make my farewell game to play here against Atletico-MG, when I would complete 300 games for the club.
"As there was a change in the trip, they would not return to Chapeco and instead go straight from Sao Paulo to Medellin. So Caio (the coach) said he would not take me."
Only three of Nivaldo’s teammates on the plane survived and all are dealing with serious injuries.
CONMEBOL has suspended all competitions, including the Copa Sudamericana final, for now and Chapecoense are not yet worrying about their next matches or what they will do going forward. The sport is not of importance right now, but Nivaldo has decided he doesn’t want to be part of it whenever they get to that point.