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Chapecoense plane crash survivor Neto retires from football

ChinaDaily 2019-12-14

RIO DE JANEIRO - Former Chapecoense defender Helio Neto has retired from football, three years after surviving a plane crash that killed 19 of his teammates.

The 34-year-old said he opted to follow the advice of doctors as he continues to suffer the physical effects of the November 2016 accident.

"My body couldn't stand it anymore," he told Globo Esporte on Friday. "I agreed with my doctors and the club that I was going to stop. The pain outweighed the pleasure."

Seventy-one people died, including most of Chapecoense's squad and all of the coaching staff, when their charter plane ran out of fuel and crashed into a hillside near Medellin, Colombia.

The tragedy occurred just two days before the Brazilian side was due to meet Atletico Nacional in the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final.

The last of six survivors to be rescued from the wreckage, Neto spent the first 11 days after the accident connected to tubes, unable to swallow or talk. He also suffered from spinal and knee ligament injuries.

Neto returned to training in March this year but was unable to play in a competitive match.

Other survivors of the crash were goalkeeper Jackson Follmann, full-back Alan Ruschel, journalist Rafael Henzel, and flight attendants Erwin Tumiri and Ximena Suarez. Henzel died in March this year after suffering a heart attack.

Ruschel is the only surviving player to resume his career and spent the second half of this year on loan at Brazilian Serie A club Goias.

Despite having to rebuild from scratch, Chapecoense remained in Brazil's top division until this year. They were relegated last weekend after finishing 19th in the 20-team Serie A championship.

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