Everyone makes mistakes, most especially when it comes to the world of sports. No one is 100% efficient, not even machines. Although some mistakes may prove fatal, most seem to wonder how one such as scoring an own goal could lead to one’s demise. Such was the sad fate of Andrés Escobar.
Escobar was born to a middle class family in Medellin, Colombia on 13th March, 1967. During his school days at Colegio Calasanz and Instituto Conrado Gonzalez where he graduated from, he actively participated in the schools’ football teams leading up to his professional career.
Throughout his career, Escobar played as a defender wearing the number 2 jersey. He was even given the nicknames ‘Caballero del Fútbol’ meaning the Gentleman of Football and the ‘Immortal Number 2’ while playing for Athletic Nacional and the Swiss club Young Boys. In 1989, Escobar was part of the Nacional team that won the Copa Libertadores.
Escobar also made 51 appearances for the Colombian National team. His debut against Canada in March 1988 was successful as Colombia won 3-0. He also scored his first and only career goal in a 1-1 draw against England. He represented the National team in the 1989 Copa America, 1990 FIFA World Cup, 1991 Copa America and the 1994 FIFA World Cup(which was his last). Prior to the 1994 world cup, he was scheduled to move to AC Milan and had also arranged his marriage later that year.
Colombia’s first match in the 1994 world cup was against Romania and they lost 3-1. As a result of their loss to Romania, they had to ensure that they at least got a draw in their second match against the United States to remain in the tournament. Although they were clear favourites, there was so much tension before and during the match, this was because if they lost, they were out.
The match was intense, with both teams striving to keep their qualification hopes alive. However, in the 35th minute, the unthinkable happened! Escobar put the ball into his own net! American midfielder John Hankes had crossed the ball into the Colombian 18 yard box, Escobar stretched forward to block the cross but ended up deflecting it into the net. United States added more pain to the Colombian fans when they added another goal in the 53rd minute. Colombia eventually scored a goal in the 90th minute but that was not enough as they ended up losing
2-1. This ensured Colombia’s elimination from the world cup at group stage.
Colombia’s elimination from the World Cup did not go well with some people and they decided that Escobar was going to pay with his life. Escobar returned to Medellin(Colombia) after the world cup, despite being warned against doing so. He was quoted as saying “in football, no one gets killed, no one dies, there is only pleasure”.
Five days later, he and his friends went to a bar in El Poblado neighborhood after which they proceeded to El Indio nightclub. They eventually split up. At 3 am the next day, Escobar decided to go home. When he reached the parking lot, he was accosted by three men. They argued with him for sometime and then two of the men brought out guns. They shot him six times, and for each shot they fired at him, they shouted “goal!!”. The three men zoomed off in their car leaving Escobar to bleed to death. Escobar was rushed to the hospital later but died 45 minutes after getting there.
Escobar’s death was investigated and a man known as Humberto Castro Muñoz confessed to his murder and was later sentenced to 43 years in prison, only to be released for good behaviour after serving just 11 years out of the 43.
News of Escobar’s death came as a great shock to the Colombian populace and the international football community. The manner of his death served to further tarnish the image of Colombia internationally. His funeral was attended by more than 120,000 people. A statue was also erected in his honor by the city of Medellin. The people of Colombia honor him by bringing his photographs to matches every year.
Even though some authorities claim that Escobar’s death had nothing to do with his own goal during the world cup, it is widely believed that he was killed by drug barons and gamblers in Colombia as a punishment for blanking their bets.



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