Dec 05, 2012, 12.21 PM IST | Source: Reuters

Former Colombia goalkeeper Calero dies at 41

SOCCER-COLOMBIA-CALERO:Former Colombia goalkeeper Calero dies at 41

(Reuters) - Former Colombia and Pachuca goalkeeper Miguel Calero died at the age of 41 in Mexico on Tuesday, one week after being taken to hospital with cerebral thrombosis.

"Pachuca is deeply saddened to report that Miguel Angel Rodriguez Calero, a symbol of the club, died on Tuesday," Mexico's oldest team said in a statement.

Calero won 51 caps for his country, making his debut against Nigeria in 1995 and playing his last game against Haiti in 2009.

He was in the squad at the Copa America six times and for the 1998 World Cup. The keeper took part in four World Cup qualifying campaigns although he was often overlooked in favour of Rene Higuita, Oscar Cordoba and Faryd Mondragon.

Calero was also in the squad at the 1992 Olympic Games.

"Miguel Calero will always be present in the history of our football and the Colombian national teams thanks to his immense achievements on the field and his undeniable human qualities, which made a mark on all the people who shared moments of his life with him," said the Colombian Football Federation (FCF).

Calero retired at Pachuca in 2011 after 11 years at the team where he won the Mexican championship and CONCACAF Champions Cup, the regional equivalent of Europe's elite club competition, four times each.

THREE GOALS

He played more than 600 professional games in his career and scored three goals.

Calero started out at Deportivo Cali, helping them win a Colombian title in 1996, and then moved to Atletico Nacional where he replaced maverick keeper Higuita.

Calero once scored from just inside his own half in a Colombian league game against Pereira in 1995.

"All my memories and experiences with Miguel are positive and happy ones," former Colombia coach Hernan Dario Gomez told local media. "You saw Miguel and you stopped feeling fed up."

Calero's death is the latest tragedy to strike Colombian football.

"When I think about Miguel at this moment it makes me sad because I think of Andres Escobar, of 'Carepa' (Hernan) Gaviria, 'Palomo' (Albeiro) Usuriaga and a load of lads who I coached and who are not with us any more," said Gomez.

Escobar was murdered in Medellin shortly after scoring an own goal at the 1994 World Cup, Gaviria was killed when he was struck by lightning during a training session in 2002 and Usuriaga was murdered in Cali in 2004.

"Miguel was a symbol, an icon, of our institution and we are really affected by his death, something completely unforeseen and absurd," said Deportivo Cali president Oscar Astudillo.

"We ask for great strength for his family." (Editing by Tony Jimenez)

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