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Fiji Time: 9:23 PM on Tuesday 16 September

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Honduras hopes for first win

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Saturday, May 17, 2014

STOKE-ON-TRENT, England - Football has provided an escape from poverty for many players but, for Honduran star Wilson Palacios, it has come with a high price — the kidnap and murder of youngest brother Edwin.

The 29-year-old former Wigan and Spurs midfielder, now with Stoke, will for the second successive World Cup finals bear the responsibility of trying to give the impoverished Central American country their first win.

Their hopes of achieving that look fair. Apart from France, they have the Swiss, who they also had in the 2010 finals, and Ecuador, for whom Palacios' close friend and former Wigan teammate Antonio Valencia plays.

In as much as Honduras can speak of sporting royalty, Palacios is very much from a footballing one, his father Eulogio was a club player and then set up a soccer school, while the family made history in the 2010 finals as Wilson was joined by brothers Jerry and Johnny.

Edwin who will forever remain in Wilson's heart, after being kidnapped in 2007. The family paid a reported $US200,000 ($A216,000) ransom demand — largely through Wilson — but he was found dead after members of the 18th Street Gang confessed to the crime in 2009.

Wilson, for whom Spurs paid Wigan 12 million in January 2009 before selling him for half that to Stoke two years later, was so distraught that he thought of retiring.

"It was extremely tough for me and I did come close to retiring," he told The Guardian in January 2010.

However, the player known as the 'Magician' — largely because of the goal he scored from halfway for his Honduran club Olimpia against Marathon to clinch his fifth and final league title with them in 2006 — was dissuaded but he is keenly aware of the risks his family runs.

Palacios, who was initially given a trial by Arsene Wenger in 2007 and he recommended him to Steve Bruce at Birmingham who signed him when he became Wigan coach in 2008.


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