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Colombia honours slain defender

Friday, July 04, 2014

MEDELLN, Colombia - Colombia paid tribute on Wednesday to football star Andres Escobar, who was gunned down 20 years ago just days after scoring an own goal at the World Cup finals.

The killing, widely said to be an act of revenge for the 27-year-old defender's own goal, set off international controversy and put a spotlight on Colombia's notorious gun culture. The act still resonates, particularly ahead of Colombia's World Cup quarter-final against Brazil tomorrow.

The city of Medellin, where he was murdered, honoured Escobar with a football match, cultural events and flowers. "I still wonder why they killed him," his brother Santiago Escobar said at one ceremony.

Carlos Valderrama, the team's goalkeeper at the time and biggest star, expressed his sadness on Twitter.

"Andres Escobar — always in our hearts. We will never forget your kindness, humility and your fight. I miss you my brother," he wrote.

Colombia were playing the United States in a group match on June 24, 1994 when Escobar tragically diverted a John Harkes cross into his own net. Colombia lost 2-1 and were eliminated from the tournament.

After, Escobar said "life doesn't end here". He started negotiating a transfer to Italian giants AC Milan.

But 10 days later, on July 2, Escobar was harangued about his own goal inside a Medellin bar. The argument went on in the car park outside. He was killed with 12 bullets. Witnesses heard the word "gol" shouted after each shot.

A rap band, 12 Pasos Flow, wrote a song in his honour, dubbing him the "Gentleman of Football" who "died for a mistake."

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