A Brazilian footballer who survived the plane crash which killed 19 members of the Chapecoense club may resume playing again.
Helio Hermito Zampier Neto was one of just six survivors of the 77 people aboard a plane which crashed into a muddy mountainside in Colombia on Monday.
Two further members of the team survived the crash, as did two crew members and a journalist.
Neto is in a stable condition after surgery on his lung, a knee, his wrist and his head.
The 31-year-old’s father Helam wrote on Facebook that his family had “renewed hope and faith” in his recovery.
He wrote: “My son is getting better and better. He has just undergone surgery on his leg and doctors say he will return to football.
“We shall continue praying because we still need his discharge from hospital to see him closely.”
Since turning pro more than a decade ago, Neto had played for several teams across Brazil. He had also recovered from surgeries on one hip and his neck, injuries that many players don’t overcome.
“For him, nothing is impossible,” his mother Valeria told the Associated Press.
“I can’t say that God saved my son,” he added. “If that was the case, God would have saved everybody. I can say that God helped my son.”
Neto’s brother Helam Marinho Zampier Jr said: “”On one hand, we are very happy because our family member, Neto, is alive. But at the same time, we are grieving because other lives were lost.”
The family recounted how they had been awoken at 3:30am by Tuesday by Neto’s wife, who called with news of the crash. For hours, they were glued to the television. Grainy footage of the rescue showed repeatedly showed what looked like Neto on a stretcher, but they couldn’t be sure.
While they waited, they stewed on something Simone said: Neto had told her on the day of the flight that he had had a dream his airline crashed.
By 10 am they received news that he had in fact made it.
“When I found out he survived, I said: ‘Thank you, God. Now I can cry,’” his mother said.
Still, there is another side.
“My heart is broken for the other mothers (of the dead),” she said.
The family said they believed that the team would rebuild.
Chapecoense reached Brazil’s first division in 2014 and was in ninth place ahead of this weekend’s last round of games. On its way to the continental final, the team known as Chape beat major clubs such as Argentina’s San Lorenzo and Independiente.
Several teams have offered to loan players, as the tragedy has brought an outpouring of support. A memorial service for the victims is being planned for Saturday in Chapeco.
“We saw the team go from very low to very high” over the last years, said the elder Zampier. “They won’t go back down.”