The tragic news filtered though late last Thursday night that Arnold Peralta had been shot dead in a parking lot outside a shopping mall in his native Honduras. The 26 year old international midfielder was brutally gunned down in an apparent drive by shooting in front of his wife as the pair walked to their car following a shopping trip to buy clothes for their newborn baby. His wife Vanessa Olivia was unhurt in the attack but Peralta, who was shot 18 times died on the scene before paramedics could reach him. It’s the latest horrific death in the country which is being ravished by gang violence and drug trafficking. The Central American country has been fighting against this problem for years now and has one of the highest murder rates in the world. A state Human Rights Commission has counted 285 deaths in the past three years but many suspect that the number is much higher than that. Feuding street gangs and drug traffickers are slowly taking control of the country’s major cities extorting its residents and instilling a fear culture that police are struggling to counteract. The problem has gotten so bad that the government is deploying security forces on public buses in order to protect its citizens.
The reason for the attack on Peralta is unknown but as a well known player in the country his death may have been a symbolic gesture by rival gangs keen to show who is in control. The local police in La Ceiba are looking into a motive for the killing but have been quick to discount robbery as nothing was taken with the assassins driving away quickly in either a car or on a motorcycle. Peralta like many other Hondurans had condemned the growing gang culture in his homeland tweeting over a year ago his feelings about the numerous gang related killings. It is unknown at this time if this contributed to him being targeted for this attack. The harrowing images of his wife sobbing uncontrollably over his body as it lay in that car park after his murder have stunned many including key officials in the country and fellow players who starred alongside him during his short playing career.
Peralta’s only British club Glasgow Rangers led the tributes on Friday with several former colleagues like Kris Boyd, Andy Little and Nicky Clark taking to Twitter to praise their fallen comrade. Boyd spoke about Peralta’s always positive attitude in training and his strong work ethic that made him an instant favourite with the other players. Little tweeted that Peralta’s death put everything else into perspective whilst Clark simply remembered the good times, posting a picture he took with Arnold when the two of them played together. The club also issued a statement stating their sadness at the news and held a fitting tribute for the player with a minutes silence before their league game against Morton on Saturday. Back home in Honduras, Osman Madrid who is the Director of the Honduras National Soccer Federation said that the country was in a state of shock and that national sport is mourning the loss of a great player. His heartbroken father spoke passionately as he confirm Arnold’s death stating simply that they killed his exemplary son and that he could not say anymore due to the pain he felt.
Like most children growing up in Honduras, Arnold Peralta dreamed of a better life for himself and his family. Luckily he had talent and it wasn’t long before it got noticed and Peralta could start his career as a football with home town club Club Deportivio y Social Vida in the countries National League in 2008. Over the next five years, Peralta would establish himself as a solid and reliable defensive midfielder for both Vida and the national team playing at all levels from Under 20’s right through to the full national team. As captain of the Honduras Under 20’s team, he helped his country qualify for the 2009 FIFA Youth World Championship in Egypt scoring once at the tournament against eventual third place Hungary as Honduras failed to make it out of the group stages. Soon came a move to the full national team and a spot in the 2012 Olympics team, ironically making his debut for that team in Glasgow. In total Peralta made 40 appearances for his country at various levels over a six year period. It was after the Olympics in 2013 that Peralta moved to Rangers where he made 24 appearances as they made their way back up the Scottish leagues following administration. Upon leaving Rangers in January of this year, he returned to Honduras to sign for Olimpia where he was playing up until his death on Thursday.