The Two Escobars, one of the best football docs ever made, is on BBC iPlayer
The award-winning documentary has been added to BBC iPlayer
The Colombia team that reached the 1994 World Cup finals were viewed by many as pre-tournament favourites. A side brimming with talent, they had lost just once in the 26 games they played prior to the tournament. In their final qualifier, away to Argentina, they had won 5-0, a performance that earned a standing ovation from a stunned Buenos Aires crowd. Pele's assertion that they would at least reach the semi-finals in the United States didn't seem so far-fetched.
Despite such lofty expectations, Colombia failed to make it beyond the group stage. Having lost their opener to Romania, a 2-1 defeat to the US in their second game ensured they would not progress to the knockout rounds. Andres Escobar, the side's captain, had scored an own goal against the hosts. Less than two weeks later, he was murdered on his return to Colombia. An argument in the car park of a Medellín nightclub resulted in him being shot six times, apparently a consequence of the own goal that contributed to his team's premature elimination from the World Cup.
His death shocked a nation. The Atlético Nacional defender, who had been on the cusp of a move to AC Milan, had paid the ultimate price for the failings of his team but also Colombian society at the time.
Indirectly, his killing was linked to the death of Pablo Escobar, a namesake but not a relation, who had also been killed only months earlier. Head of Medellin's notorious drug cartel, his death had plunged the city into a state of chaos where criminals affiliated to rival gangs battled amongst themselves and with local police in an attempt to gain control.
Whereas Pablo Escobar was responsible for countless murders while running the Medellin Cartel, he had used some of the billion dollar fortune he had amassed from the trading of drugs to provide homes and employment for the poor who, in return, adored him. He had also bought Andres Escobar's club, Atlético Nacional, and befriended several members of Colombia's national team.
Award-winning documentary The Two Escobars chronicles the lives of Andres and Pablo, giving the extensive backstory of the rise and fall of the drug lord's multi billion dollar empire and the implications it had for football in the country. The film, directed by Jeff Zimbalist and Michael Zimbalist, also explains how, ultimately, a respected, clean-living footballer lost his life in the turbulence that ensued after his namesake's death.
Released in 2010, the film is widely regarded as one of the best football documentaries ever made. Fortunately for us, it's also now available to watch for free in the documentary section of BBC iPlayer, having been added in early September.