Andres Escobar scored an unlucky own goal against the United States during Colombia’s disastrous performance at the 1994 World Cup – and paid for it with his life.
Escobar, who is a central defense player, started his career in 1985 at Atletico Nacional. After a brief stint with Young Boys, Escobar returned to the club for good in 1990.
Escobar, a central defender, was offered a contract at AC Milan in 1994. He was a crucial part of the 1994 World Cup team that beat Argentina 5 to 1.
The nation had high hopes for Francisco Maturana’s team, but they lost 3-1 to an inspired by Gheorghe Hagi in Los Angeles.
Going into the second fixture, Colombia were favourites in a must-win game against hosts the United States, but an early own goal from Escobar was compounded by Earnie Stewart’s strike before Adolfo Valencia’s consolation.
John Harkes put a cross in the box towards Stewart in the 35th minute. Escobar, trying to keep the opposition out of the ball, accidentally guided it beyond Oscar Cordoba to the net.
After a third loss in the group match against Colombia, Escobar decided to return to Medellin with his friends and insist that he didn’t intend to hide.
Six days after suffering World Cup elimination, Escobar was approached by three men while sitting in his car, two of whom brought out handguns and began arguing with the footballer.
Escobar was shot six more times before being rushed to the hospital. He would later die there 45 minutes later.
Humberto Castro Munoz was a bodyguard to members of a powerful drug cartel and was later arrested.
He was then found guilty and sentenced to 43 years in prison. After serving only 11 years for good behavior, he was released in 2005.
A total of 120,000 people attended Escobar’s funeral. The tragic murder of the beloved international defender is still remembered during matches each year.
Atletico Nacional fans are particularly saddened by Escobar’s death. His family established the Andres Escobar Project, which helps children from disadvantaged backgrounds get into football.
Escobar had been due to marry his partner of five-years, Pamela Cascardo, she said of their him in 1998: “We had a wonderful relationship. This was the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.”
The tragic loss of life was again discussed back in 2018, after midfielder Carlos Sanchez was sent off just three minutes into their first fixture at the World Cup in Russia – and later received death threats.
Escobar’s brother Santiago felt the need to speak out, saying: “As a brother who has gone through this, I know what must be going through their heads, and I wouldn’t want anyone to go through that.
“Carlos must be feeling both sad for the mistake he made, and very afraid, and his family too.
“My brother never received any threats, they just shot him dead in the most cowardly way.”