Goals make the difference in football, but to the family of Columbia’s Andrés Escobar Saldarriaga, this was an unbearable difference! It is just nine days to go to Russia 2018 and in the spirit of the biggest football showpiece, Top Media Nigeria strolls down memory lane.
2nd of July, 1994, the world cup was still ongoing in the United States when news filtered in that The Gentleman has just been gunned down. His offence? He (unwittingly) put the ball beyond his own goalkeeper! Yes! Just an own goal. The same own goal Joseph Yobo scored in Nigeria’s last world cup match.
United States against Columbia: Stretching to block a cross from American midfielder John Harkes, Escobar inadvertently deflected the ball into his own net. Host, United States won the game 2–1.
Escobar’s unfortunate goal was the only own goal that will be scored in the competition that was Nigeria’s maiden appearance at the senior FIFA World Cup.
The own goal, the first of Escobar’s professional career, cost Colombia the game, but worse than that —the 27-year-old was shot dead for his mistake in a Medellin parking lot 10 days later.
HOW ESCOBAR WAS KILLED
After their exit from 1994 FIFA World Cup, Escobar decided to return to Colombia instead of visiting relatives in Las Vegas , Nevada .
On the evening of July 1, 1994, five days after the elimination of Colombia from the World Cup, Escobar called his friends, and they went to a bar in the El Poblado neighborhood in Medellín. Then they went to a liquor store. Shortly afterwards, they arrived at the El Indio nightclub. His friends split up.
At approximately 3:00 the next morning, Escobar was alone in the parking lot of El Indio, in his car, when three men appeared. They began arguing with him. Two of the men took out handguns. Escobar was shot six times with a .38 caliber pistol.
It was reported that the killer shouted “Gol!” (“Goal!”) after every shot, once for each time the South American football commentator said it during the broadcast. The group then drove away in a Toyota pickup truck, leaving Escobar to bleed to death. Escobar was rushed to the hospital where he died 45 minutes later.
Even though, then-coach Francisco Maturana believed Escobar’s murder was due to the vast issues that existed within the country at the time, the footballing world see the killing as a retaliation for the own goal he scored.
“LIFE DOESN’T END HERE”
After Colombia’s elimination from USA ’94, Escobar penned the following words for Bogota’s El Tiempe newspaper:
“Life doesn’t end here. We have to go on. Life cannot end here. No matter how difficult, we must stand back up. We only have two options: either allow anger to paralyse us and the violence continues, or we overcome and try our best to help others. It’s our choice.
” Let us please maintain respect. My warmest regards to everyone. It’s been a most amazing and rare experience. We’ll see each other again soon because life does not end here”.
His words have become immortal. Like we’d say in this part of our world: ” Life goes on”!
Escobar’s incident goes down as one of FIFA World Cup’s most controversial moments.
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