Andres Escobar and the “deadly” own goal

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22 JUN 1994: ANDRES ESCOBAR #2 OF COLOMBIA IN ACTION SHIELDS THE BALL FROM ERIC WYNALDA OF THE USA DURING THE 1994 WORLD CUP MATCH AT THE ROSE BOWL IN PASADENA, CALIFORNIA. Mandatory Credit: Shaun Botterill/ALLSPORT

Written by El-Khoury

Football is more than just a sport. A game that is different from all the others. Although celebrated most of the time, there are times when football creates a completely opposite feeling. In Latin America, footballers risk their lives.

People there often reach very extreme situations. Something similar happened in the case of Andres Escobar. A Colombian footballer who at the age of 27, shortly before making the big trip to Milan, was cold-bloodedly killed for an own goal.

On June 22, 1994, the Colombian national team faced America for the World Cup. Everything seemed positive for the country of Andres Escobar and himself. The “Gentleman of the Stadiums” was the best Colombia had. His transfer to Milan was the next big step. He would be a teammate of Baggio, Maldini, Vieira and many more. Colombia, on the other hand, had already beaten former world champions Argentina 5-0 (before the tournament).But the problem for Colombia was that the country’s football was controlled by big drug dealers.

In fact, a few months ago, the greatest drug lord ever, Pablo Escobar (unrelated to Andres) had died. So, control was taken by smaller drug dealers who didn’t have the same power. Football soon became part of the game. The illegal bets were given and taken and the Barons were waiting to make a lot of money. Unfortunately for them, Colombia had lost to Romania 3-1 in the first match and so the second match against America (hosting the World Cup at the time) was decisive. Anything other than victory was not an option. The players and the technical leadership of Colombia received threats for their lives from the barons and so their fear and terror paid off in the end.

The game against America seemed to be going well until the 34th minute. Then, 27-year-old Andres Escobar tried to stop the ball in the area, but failed. His foot hit the ball at the worst possible moment and sent it straight into the Colombian net. The final score was 2-1 and America took the victory, due to Escobar’s own goal.

Four days later, Colombia was eliminated from the World Cup, with Andres Escobar writing an article in the newspaper “El Tiempo” in which he apologized to the whole nation for his appearance. It was the only own goal in his career and the only fatal one. He ended his apology with the words “I will see you soon, because life does not end here”. Unfortunately for him this did not apply. On July 2, 1994, a few days after the loss of Colombia, Andres Escobar was in Medellin, where he came from.

He himself decided to be there and had cancelled a family trip to the US. He was sitting in a bar with friends and around 3 in the morning he got in his car to leave for his home and family. There he was approached by three men, who mocked him for his performance. He himself reacted and the conflict began. Two of them pulled out a gun and, without any warning, shot him six times. In fact, some testimonies state that the killer shouted “Goooal!” When the bullets found their target successfully.

The three killers disappeared overnight, and Escobar was covered in blood in his car. The passers-by who found him immediately transported him to the hospital. He fought for his life but 45 minutes later passed away. Andres Escobar, 27, was dead and everyone knew why. The killer was Uberto Muιόoz Castro, who worked as a guide and bodyguard for the Gayon brothers, a family of drug dealers who gained unlimited power after the death of Pablo Escobar. Castro pulled the trigger, but everyone knew that the order came from Gayon, who had bet on Colombia’s victory and lost a huge amount with Escobar’s own goal. That was the end of Escobar. A story that will always accompany every World Cup and the relationship between football and the underworld.