Body of ex-Villarreal star found two days after going missing while swimming on his birthday
THE body of a missing footballer Franco Acosta was found two days after his disappearance while trying to cross a river in Uruguay.
A search was launched for the Uruguayan, 25, on Saturday afternoon after his brother sounded the alarm.
The grim discovery was made Monday morning near where it was last seen in the Pando River in the Uruguayan capital Montevideo.
Acosta was celebrating his 25th birthday with his family when he attempted to cross the Pando River, before being swept away.
Acosta had returned to his homeland after several years in Spain, where he played for Villarreal and Racing Santander.
The Uruguayan federation said in a tweet from the former U-20 international: “We sincerely regret the death of Uruguayan footballer Franco Acosta, who was part of the youth teams of the national team.”
He added: “Our condolences to his parents, friends and teammates.”
Franco, whose current squad was Uruguayan second-division club Club Atletico Atenas, disappeared just before 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.
His brother was able to get out of the water and get to safety.
A search by the Uruguayan navy was immediately launched but no sign of the footballer was found at nightfall on Saturday before the search resumed the next day.
Navy spokesman Pablo Gonzalez said Acosta disappeared as he tried to swim across the river from east to west.
He revealed that several witnesses, believed to include fishermen and locals enjoying water sports, heard his calls for help and sounded the alarm.
Boats and a jet ski were mobilized to search for him and search and rescue teams also combed the shore without finding any sign of him. Diving experts have also been called upon.
Born in Montevideo, Acosta started his career with the local team Centro Atletico Fenix, who currently play in the Uruguayan Premier League.
The former youth international signed a five-and-a-half-year contract with La Liga Villarreal in January 2015.
He played in the reserves and joined Racing de Santander’s second division B team on loan three years later.
Villarreal said in a tweet: “Deeply affected by your loss. We will always remember you Franco. Rest in peace.”
Acosta was a fan of Uruguayan-born Manchester United striker Edinson Cavani.
He said in a recent interview: “What I admire the most about him is the strength he has to push aside his rivals and get into the zone … it’s amazing.”
He also confessed to copying some of PSG star Neymar’s tips, saying: “His technical ability is wonderful.
“Neymar and Cavani are two players that I love and that I think are better than the others.
“I was fascinated by Cavani the moment I saw him play for the national team.”