Andres Escobar Saldrriaga, more commonly known as Andres Escobar, was a Colombian defender who played with Atletico Nacional of the Colombian League.
Andres Escobar was born on March 13, 1967, in Medellin, Colombia. Growing up in the barrios of Medellin, Escobar attend Colegio Calasanz where he played soccer and would continue to play way into his teenage years at Instituto Conrado Gonzalez, before becoming a professional soccer player. Escobar played as a centre back throughout his professional career, standing at 6ft was a beast in the box, he was noted for scoring most of his goals with his head. He started playing professionally in 1987 at the age of 20 years old when he started to play for Atletico Nacional where he made a total of 222 appearances for the club from 1986-1989 and 1990-1994. He had a brief spell from 1989-1990 at Young Boys of the Swiss league but did not make an appearance for the club. He wore the number 2 jersey and was nicknamed “El Cabballero del Futbol” (The Gentleman of Football) he helped Atletico Nacional win the 1989 Copa Libertadores, its first one in its history and put Colombian soccer on the map. Before the start of the 1994 World Cup, it was stated that he was to join a club in Milan but it is unclear which Milan team offered him the contract Inter Milan or AC Milan.
Escobar made his national team debut on March 30th, 1988 in a 3-0 win over Canada. He made his
first international competition appearance in the Rous Cup against England where he scored his only international goal to end the game in a tie 1-1. In 1989, Escobar played 4 matches of the Copa America at just 22 years old but unfortunately Colombia was eliminated in the first round. And in that same year he played in the 1990 World Cup qualifiers, although Colombia won the group they had to play a playoff round against Cameroon which Colombia won and gained entry to the World Cup. In 1991 he was called up to the Copa America squad where he made a total of 7 appearances for Colombia. Although he did not participate in any of the 1994 World Cup qualifiers, he was called up for the World Cup.
Escobar is probably best known for his infamous own goal against the US which was Colombia’s second game after a surprise upset against Romania. Escobar deflected a pass made by US midfielder John Harkes into the Colombian net. In the end the US beat Colombia 2-1 which ended their best chance at progressing to the next round. Colombia came in as one of the heavy favorites to win the tournament.
Sadly once returning home to Medellin, he was shot and killed outside a nightclub. It was rumored that he was killed because of the own goal incident in the World Cup, but after many talks with close friends it was nothing more that just a fight that broke out where the assailants drew guns and shot him 6 times. His death was a direct result of the drugs and crime that infested Colombia at the time. I wrote this after watching “The Two Escobars”, which is a good documentary, Andres Escobar was a true ambassador of the game, but most importantly bringing people together. In a time where Colombia was torn by violence, he and the whole National Team brought the people together and for a moment brought peace to the country, this is why soccer is such a powerful sport especially in 3rd world countries we have seen a lot of great examples of how this sport brings people together in harmony and peace like in El Salvador, Afghanistan and Iraq. Escobar was also quoted as saying “Life doesn’t end here”, and is held in the highest regards by many Colombian fans.
Enjoy Andres Escobar’s only international goal against England in the Rous Cup!