03:30 - Source: CNN
A Close Call for Chapecoense's Demerson

Story highlights

Club lost 38 players and staff

Six survivors pulled from the wreckage

Chapeco CNN  — 

“That was in his (coach Caio Junior) head and it’s my destiny,” Nivaldo told CNN from the club’s stadium. “I have dual feeling about being alive today but deep in my heart what if I had gone?”

And the 30-year-old reserve defender thinks the team’s camaraderie which drove it to unlikely success will help resurrect the club.

“It’s true that (on the one hand) we have to think about the future,” Demerson told CNN’s Don Riddell in the team’s home city of Chapeco.

“It won’t be easy, because all the time we are thinking about our friends and colleagues, and they will always be in our thoughts.

“But with everyone’s help – the fans, (and other) clubs – I am certain that next year we will come back strong.

“I want to stay, of course, it’s hard that your friends won’t be with you,” he added, “but we need to do it for them.”

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‘No explanation’

Chapecoense’s final training session is still very much on Demerson’s mind.

“It was an easy light training, and everyone was happy,” recalled the defender. “I laughed, played and talked to everyone.

“On Monday, I sent a specific (text) message to a friend, (34-year-old striker) Bruno Rangel,” added Demerson. “I wished him a good trip, and when he got there to let me know.

“That response never came unfortunately.”

Chapecoense is one of the smallest clubs in Brazil’s top division, Serie A, which it qualified for in 2014. Before Monday’s plane crash, that claimed the lives of 71 people, the team had enjoyed a fairytale season.

The club won its state competition, and was traveling to Colombia to play Atlético Nacional in the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana – set to be the highest profile match in the team’s history.

Chapecoense lost 19 players and a further 19 staff members in the tragedy. Three of Demerson’s teammates survived, but are hospitalized with life-altering injuries.

Teams in Brazil and Argentina have offered players on free loans to Chapecoense in an attempt to help the club in its hour of need.

Football legends like 36-year-old Brazilian Ronaldinho and 34-year-old Argentinian Juan Roman Riquelme have reportedly offered to come out of retirement and play for the club as well.

“We weren’t a team, we were a family”

Over the last few years, the Chapecoense team had developed a special spirit.

“Everyone respected one another and that was really impressive,” he said of the side he joined in May. “In a football club, that’s not easy to achieve.

“We weren’t a team, we were a family,” he added. “We were friends, companions, brothers – so this is very hard because four or five days ago we were so happy.

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“It feels like my heart is broken in two,” Demerson said. “Nothing you can say nothing you can do will change that they are not here.

“On Monday, on the first night I went to bed after the tragedy, I kissed my son and thought how many of my friends wont have that opportunity anymore.”