Tottenham Hotspur have allowed their Honduran midfielder, Wilson Palacios, to return home on indefinite compassionate leave after the discovery of remains believed to be those of his kidnapped younger brother.
Edwin Palacios, who was 16, was taken from the family home in the coastal town of La Ceiba by armed bandits more than 18 months ago. Police uncovered the remains in a mountainous region around 150 miles north of the capital, Tegucigalpa.
They had been led to the area after two already-jailed members of the alleged kidnap gang confessed to the killing, despite a ransom reportedly being paid. The body was unearthed after four days of digging and police said they were awaiting formal identification but believed it to be Edwin.
A Tottenham spokesman said: "Wilson has gone home on compassionate leave. We would not expect to see him again for a while."
Spurs have two games left this season, at home to Manchester City next Saturday and then away to Liverpool on the season's final day, 24 May.
Harry Redknapp, the Tottenham manager, revealed that Palacios had spent the early hours of Saturday morning sitting alone in the lobby of the team's hotel in Liverpool after being told of the discovery. He was due to have lined up against Everton later in the day.
"He found out in a telephone call at one o'clock in the morning," Redknapp said. "But he is such a polite lad, such a respectful person, that he didn't want to disturb me.
"He eventually called me at seven o'clock and told me he had not wanted to wake me up. He just sat there in the lobby, feeling numb, until someone came to pick him up in the morning to take him back to London to catch a flight."
Redknapp said 24-year-old Palacios would return to the club only when he was ready to do so.
"We'll give him all the time he needs. I don't imagine he will play again before the end of the season," the manager said.
Palacios, who joined Tottenham for £14m from Wigan in January, has been in the dark over the fate of Edwin, one of six brothers, since he disappeared in October 2007. His mother, Orfilia, made a desperate plea to Gordon Brown earlier this year to lobby the President of Honduras about her missing son.
She was flying back to the country after visiting Wilson in England when police announced their grim find.
Kidnappings for ransom are common in South and Central America and the families of footballers have become prime targets. Wilson Palacios has become of the biggest stars in Honduras football. Edwin was seized soon after his brother arrived in England to join Birmingham City, on loan from Olympia.
It is the second time in a matter of weeks that a Tottenham player has lost a family member in violent circumstances. Last month, Jade Defoe – the 26-year-old half-brother of striker Jermain Defoe – died from head injuries after he was attacked in Leytonstone, east London.