Former Panama striker Luis ‘Matador’ Tejada, who helped the national team qualify for its first ever World Cup in 2018, has died at the age of 41, the Panamanian Football Federation (FEPAFUT) announced on Sunday.
Local media reported that Tejada, whose 43 international goals makes him Panama’s all-time leading goal scorer, collapsed while playing in a local recreational league.
CNN Sport has reached out to the Panamanian national police for comment.
FEPAFUT said in a statement that Tejada, who played 108 times for Panama, was “synonymous with the development and evolution of football in our country.”
“We express our sincerest condolences to his relatives, friends and the whole football family and Panamanian sport in general,” the statement read.
“We will never forget you Matador!”
Former Panama striker Blas Pérez, who played alongside Tejada in attack for Panama and is second behind the ‘Matador’ on the national team’s scoring charts, wrote on X alongside a photo of the duo embracing: “I don’t believe it, my partner left.”
Tejada scored two goals in the fourth round of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, with Panama going on to finish third in the fifth round and qualifying for the tournament automatically.
Panama finished a point and two places ahead of the US men’s team, which failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in 32 years.
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.
Panama then lost 6-1 to England and 3-0 to Belgium to get knocked out in the group stage.