Colombia plane crash: Poignant video shows players' excitement before doomed flight
"It's beginning, the journey to Colombia is beginning."
For the humble Chapecoense football club, the trip to Colombia was a journey 40 years in the making.
The small team with big dreams had reached the two-game final of the Copa Sudamericana, South America's second biggest club competition, in a winning streak that was the small club's best showing in four decades.
The Brazilian players wer e looking forward to continuing their blazing trajectory into the top leagues as they headed to Medellin, where they faced a first-leg match against Colombia's Atletico Nacional.
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Which made an in-flight video posted by defender Felipe Machado all the more poignant.
"We are starting the journey to Colombia," a grinning Machado said, before panning to introduce other players and officials on the flight, all just as pumped for the final.
The team's joy was shared by fans.
On Chapecoense's Facebook feed, a well-wisher wrote: "Bon voyage, guys! May God be with you and protect you! The final victory will be ours."
But the fairy-tale rise from minor club to anticipated champions was cruelly cut short.
The aircraft crashed after countering electrical failure over Colombia, killing 71 on board in the worst air disaster in Colombia in two decades.
The Chapecoense team was all but wiped out in the crash, save for defender Alan Ruschel and substitute goalkeeper Jackson Follmann.
Follman had one of his legs amputated and remains in a critical condition in hospital, but his family said it was a miracle he was still alive.
Neto was in a "very delicate but stable" condition in intensive care, said a doctor treating him. The player suffered trauma to his head, thorax and lungs, as well as open wounds to his knees.
Player Danilo Padilha was pulled alive from the wreckage – but died moments after calling his wife from his hospital bed.
Those killed on the flight included 21 journalists travelling with the team, which was on its way to the finals of a regional tournament when the British Aerospace 146 short-haul plane, operated by a charter airline named LaMia, declared an emergency and crashed.
Matches were cancelled around South America and Brazil declared three days of mourning following the crash.
Atletico Nacional, the team due to face off against Chapecoense in the final, requested the trophy be awarded to Chapecoense in honour of those who died.
In an emotional tribute, Brazil football superstar Neymar said it was "impossible to believe this tragedy".
"It's impossible to believe what happened ... impossible to believe that these people left their families," he said.
"Today the world cries, but heaven rejoices in receiving Champions."
- Stuff, Agencies