One of the most tragic and unfortunate stories in football is certainly that of Andrés Escobar, a Colombian professional footballer who used to play as a defender for Atlético Nacional and the Colombian National team.Photo credit: Getty Images
Nicknamed The Gentleman, he was known for his clean style of play and calmness on the pitch. Andrés represented the honesty, loyalty and dutifulness of the impoverished Colombian people.
Born in Medellín, the capital of the international cocaine trade and a city that averaged about 80 murders a week, the player could've easily chosen a path of crime, but he did not. He grew up humble and contented with what he had, succeeding in achieving his dream of becoming a professional footballer who even went as far captaining his beloved Country.Photo credit: Getty Images
On 22 June 1994, during the FIFA World Cup match between the United States and Colombia at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Colombia had to win that match to qualify from their group. Their passionate fans were hopeful that their countries' heroes can get the job done after 90 minutes.
But during the match, Andrés Escobar scored an own goal early in the match that saw USA take a 1-0 lead. He was stretching to intercept a dangerous cross that was definitely going to be a tap-in for the Americans, and unfortunately for him, he turned the ball into his own net.Photos credit: Getty Images
USA eventually won the game 2-1 and Colombia were out of the tournament. Andrés was blamed for their exit and he took responsibility for it.
Five days after their elimination, on the 1st of July 1994, Andrés called his friends, and they went to a bar in the El Poblado neighbourhood in Medellín. Then they went to a liquor store and shortly afterwards, they arrived at the El Indio nightclub.
At approximately 3 am the next morning, after his friends had split up, he was alleged to have been teased about his own goal in the club and he decided to leave. While he was alone in the parking lot of El Indio, in his car, three men approached him and began arguing with him. Two of the men took out handguns and they shot him six times with a .38 calibre pistol.
Reports said that the killer shouted "Goal" after every shot, in reference to the "goal" the commentator shouted after Andrés' own goal. 45 minutes later, he was declared dead at a nearby hospital. The murder was widely believed to be a punishment for the own goal.
At just 27 years old, with the world at his feet, Andrés was on the verge of joining AC Milan in Europe before this unfortunate incident claimed his life.Photo credit: Getty Images
Over 120,000 people attended his funeral and every year people honour him by bringing his photographs to matches. In July 2002, the city of Medellín unveiled a statue in honour of his memory.Photos credit: Getty Images
Darío Escobar, Andrés' father later said after the death of his son: "He was dedicated to the sport. He never caused anyone any problems. Then, they killed him for nothing."
Photo credit: Getty Images
This story is a really sad and unfortunate story that every football lover needs to hear and be aware of. Some of us fans are so passionate about the game that we sometimes insult players when they make a mistake.
I know all we do is insult them, but even that is a wrong thing to do. Footballers are human beings and so they are allowed to make mistakes.
When you read a story like this, it definitely touches your heart and makes you realise that no matter what happens on the football field, it is not worth losing our humanity over.
Andrés Escobar is a victim of wickedness and madness that has no place in football. And we pray that his soul rests in perfect peace. Amen.
Kindly share this story so that people can read the story of The Gentleman footballer who was dealt a very cruel blow. Thank you.
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