As Colombia prepare to face host nation Brazil in the quarterfinals of the FIFA World Cup 2014, FIFA and Colombian fans pay tribute to Andres Escobar 20 years after he was brutally murdered in Colombia after a disastrous World Cup campaign with his national team
July 2 marks the 20th anniversary of Andres Escobar's death and many football fans may never have heard of his or his story.
Escobar was a member of the Colombian national football team in the early 90's where he held position as defender. He played his cub football for Atlético Nacional and BSC Young Boys.
Escobar was famously murdered in 1994 after his team was eliminated from the 1994 FIFA World Cup after he scored an own goal. The loss allegedly caused some big drug lords to lose a lot of money from bets placed on the game and this is speculated to be the reason behind his brutal murder.
Despite the sinister links to big time crime syndicates, some of his teammates and his coach at the time attributed his death to the general unrest and widespread criminal activity in Colombia during those years.
The own goal occurred in a match against the host country United States in the Colombian team's second match of the tournament. Escobar deflected the ball into the Colombian goal in an attempt to clear an American pass. USA won 2-1 and the result eliminated Colombia from the tournament.
Escobar returned to Colombia after his team was eliminated and on July 1, 1994, he went out with some friends and at around 3am the next morning, while sitting in his car in the parking lot of a nightclub he had visited, three men appeared with hand guns and after a short argument with the footballer, he was shot six times in the chest.
Only one suspect was arrested and charged for his murder, Humberto Castro Munoz who is connected to a powerful Colombian cartel. He confessed and was sentenced to 43 years in prison. He had been released in 2005 on good behaviour after only serving just 11 years.
Escobar's brother and sister will reportedly attend the Brazil vs. Colombia match on Friday, July 4, 2014 almost exactly 20 years after his death. The siblings will be wearing the No. 2 shirt with the name Escobar printed on it in honour of their fallen brother.
FIFA had invited Escobar's family to come to the tournament and it has brought mixed emotions to the family after the tournament opened with an own goal by Brazil's Marcelo. At the same time, Escobar's sister Maria Ester is relieved to be away from the place where it all happened.
"Twenty years is a long time and it's really upsetting to think about, but I prefer to thank God for having given us the chance to have him with us for 27 years, for lending him to us. His life was cut short, but he did important things in that time. I wanted to escape Medellin, because there Andres's death will be talked about in all the news programmes and papers and it would be very tough. I'd rather spend it here, with the family, and then hold a memorial service when we go back home." Maria Ester said to FIFA.com.