Football

The rebirth of Chapecoense

Published 1017 GMT (1817 HKT) January 24, 2017
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Helio Neto was one of only three Chapecoense players to survive a plane crash that killed 71 passengers in November. On Saturday, in the Brazilian club's first game since the tragedy, he joined relatives of those who died on the pitch at the club's stadium in Chapeco, Santa Catarina state. NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images
The team has had to be completely rebuilt in the close season, with around 24 new players arriving. One of them is Tulio de Melo, a striker who returned to the club after a spell in 2015. He told CNN that when Neto called him and asked him for his help in rebuilding Chapecoense, he couldn't refuse. NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images
Chapecoense's success came not from a succession of star players or big names but from a tightly-knit, determined group. Melo says the club were offered thousands of players but chose those who fitted the club's philosophy. "We will keep the soul and profile of this club," he added. NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images
Goalkeeper Jackson Follmann holds the Copa Sudamericana trophy that was awarded to Chapecoense in the aftermath of the disaster by CONMEBOL, South American soccer's governing body. He had to have his leg amputated after surviving the crash. NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images
Chapecoense's fans turned out in force for the friendly with Palmeiras ahead of the season. The team, and its Cinderella story, was popular last season before the crash. Now Melo says he thinks the club are everyone's second team. "We feel that support," he said. "I'm pretty sure we're going to play at home in any game this season." NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images