Bogota: Lightning killed former Colombia international Herman Gaviria and injured four other players during training with top-flight side Deportivo Cali.
It was a tragedy for the Colombian league leaders and the 44-million-strong population of a country which is passionate about football.
During a storm Thursday afternoon — when the team was training in a stadium in Pance — Gaviria, Giovanny Cordoba, Carlos Alvarez, Giovanny Hernandez and Julian Mauricio Espinoza were struck by lightning.
The five players were taken to a hospital in Cali, 470km south west of capital Bogota, but 33-year-old attacking midfielder Gaviria died shortly afterwards.
Cordoba was in intensive care in a critical condition but the other three were described as stable, according to a hospital statement.
During the 1994 World Cup finals in the US, Gaviria scored the opener in Colombia’s 2-0 first-phase win over Switzerland.
Espinoza, speaking to a radio station from hospital, said: “Training had been going for five minutes in the rain when lightning started to streak across the sky. Lightning struck Gaviria on the head and, shortly afterwards, I was also hit.
“I fell down and from then on, I couldn’t remember anything.”