Plane crashes have consumed a lot of sports teams over the past few decades and some of the most tragic tales are those of entire football teams being wiped out in one terrible accident. The global appeal of the sport means these tragedies are remembered through recurring themes in football, and sadly, one more was added to this today, when a chartered plane crashed while approaching Medellin in Colombia.
1. Real Chapecoense
The Brazilian club's team was travelling to Colombia for a Copa Sudamericana final - the first time a club from the region was playing in the final of an international tournament. They were en route from Bolivia in a chartered plane which crashed in Cerro Gordo. 81 people were on board, out of which authorities have confirmed that 76 have died. 22 players were on the plane, out of which three have survived - latest reports say. Rescue operations are underway and prayers are pouring in from around the world for the rescue of more.
The tweet below shows three players who did not travel with the side for the match - in a state of shock at the club's dressing room.
Desolación total en el vestuario de Chapecoense. Los jugadores que no hicieron el viaje, devastados. Qué jornada tan jodida. pic.twitter.com/acgTMar1oC— Invictos (@InvictosSomos) November 29, 2016
The crash was apparently so bad that the aircraft had split in two with only the nose and wings recognisable and the tail end completely destroyed.
2. Manchester United
The Munich tragedy robbed United of eight players - dubbed the 'Busby Babes' - as the team was travelling from Munich to Manchester in 1958. The cause was a slush-covered runway on which the pilots attempted a third take-off after two failures. Manager Matt Busby and the legendary Sir Bobby Charlton survived the crash as United regrouped and won the European Cup 10 years later in a phenomenal fightback from tragedy. A remarkably talented group of footballers had their careers suddenly cut short, including that of the audacious Duncan Edwards, who died 15 days after the crash due to injuries.
Nine years before the Munich air crash, Italian team Torino's entire football side was wiped out when their plane crashed into a wall of the Basilica of Superga. The loss was felt throughout world football - as Torino were already proclaimed winners of that year's Serie A and their squad formed a major part of the Italian national team. All 31 people on-board lost their lives. In memory of the players, the wall of basilica, which is situated on a hill, was never restored. The team was returning after a friendly against Benfica in Lisbon (Portugal).
4. Zambia national team
In 1993, the Zambian team was travelling to Senegal for a World Cup qualifier when their plane crashed into the Atlantic near Libreville in Gabon. Not one of the 30 people on board survived. Multiple faults with the aircraft were detected and the pilot had shut down the wrong engine after a fire.
But what gives this tale a fascinating end is Zambia's run to the final of the African Cup of Nations the following year, with a completely new team. And then in 2012, their side won the African Cup of Nations just a few metres inland of the crash site.
What a way to pay tribute to the souls who couldn't realise their dream of glory for the nation.
5. Alianza Lima
The Peruvian football club was just six miles from its destination when their plane crashed into the Pacific Ocean. In a ridiculously sad and unlucky situation, the plane's landing gear indicator failed - so the pilot requested a flyby past the air control. On confirmation that the landing gear was down, the aircraft flew too low on approaching the runway. What is even more stunning is that the only survivor was the pilot. The coach, and 16 players lost their lives - the most promising bunch in a decade of Alianza. One of the players was 18-year-old sensation Luis Escobar, was so talented that he had represented the senior side at just 14 years of age. Alianza next won a title in 1997, a decade after the crash.
Feature image source: AFP