Tragedy struck the world of football as a former Panama International professional football player passed on while playing a football match in his home country.
Luis Carlos Tejada, a Panama football legend who is the reigning all-time top scorer for the South American country, died on Sunday, January 28, 2024.
The Panama Football Federation (FEPAFUT) confirmed the tragic news in a statement on Sunday as they mourned the legend.
In the statement, the 41-year-old was recognized to have played a major role for his country, synonymously with the development and evolution of football in the country.
“We express our sincerest condolences to his relatives, friends and the whole football family and Panamanian sport in general. We will never forget you Matador!” the statement read.
The striker, widely known by his nickname ‘matador’ in his home country boasted of 43 goals in 108 caps making him the all-time top scorer.
Also, the player played a huge role as he helped the national team qualify for its first ever World Cup in 2018.
How the tragic incident happened
Local media reported that Tejada lost his life after he collapsed while playing in a local recreational league.
He has been playing as a professional player until his retirement in 2019 and was participating in a local veteran’s league match of players over 40 in his hometown.
The 41-year-old was enjoying what he loved to do best when he suddenly complained of complications prompting him to ask for substitution.
No sooner had he left the pitch than he suddenly fainted and collapsed just minutes after the substitution.
“It was a cardiac arrest. He asked to be substituted and left the game. Outside the field, he collapsed and was taken by ambulance to Santa Librada Polyclinic (on the outskirts of Panama City), where he was pronounced dead,” confirmed a source close to the player.
FEPAFUT described the legend as a devoted and expressed shock upon confirming the news.
Panama football players and fans joined the football world in mourning the deceased as he was remembered for his achievements in the national team.
We extend our sincerest condolences to his family and the entire Panamanian football and sports family in general.” His heartbroken former team-mate Blas Perez also said: “I don’t believe it; my partner is gone.”
He played a role for his nation’s history making achievement as they qualified for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
However, the achievement was short lived as they exited at group stage despite a remarkable performance against Morocco.
Panama troubled Tunisia in the team’s opening group match in Russia, but the north African side came from a goal behind to win 2-1.
They were humiliated by eventual semifinalists England but left the tournament with their heads high.
Panama then lost 6-1 to England and 3-0 to Belgium to get knocked out in the group stage.
Tejada’s tragic incident is among tragic incidents that professional football players have suffered.
Most players with complications are fitted with implantable cardiovascular defibrillator (ICD)s which help them continue playing.
An ICD is a battery-powered device fitted in the chest of people with heart conditions and has often been fitted to many players with heart conditions.
Former Salzburg and Ghana international football player Raphael Dwamena was also fitted with one.
He however died aged 28 in November 2023 after collapsing during a game in Albania.