Luis Tejada, Panama
Luis Tejada played for the Panamanian national team for almost 17 years; he remains as the all-time top scorer with 43 goals (14 in WCQ games) Via @FIFAWorldCup on X/Twitter

ALABAMA - On Jan. 28, news broke from Panama reporting that Luis Tejada, the legendary Central American striker and country legend, had died due to heart complications while playing a pick-up game near his hometown of San Miguelito.

According to local reports, Tejada collapsed while playing in a local recreational league and was taken to a clinic for medical examination where he was later pronounced dead.

In a statement, the Panamanian Football Federation (FEPAFUT) expressed their condolences and said that Tejada was one of the main emblems in the "development and evolution of soccer" within the country. "We will never forget you Matador!," the statement said.

One of the most influential soccer players in the history of his country, Tejada retired from professional activity in 2022 after a long and successful career that saw him play in six different countries.

He had stints in Colombia, Mexico, United Arab Emirates, United States and Peru, where he won the league title with Juan Aurich in 2011 and finished as the top scorer with 17 goals. He scored more than 100 goals in the Peruvian league and even had the chance to play in the Copa Libertadores, scoring 12 goals in 25 career games in the most prestigious soccer competition in the Americas.

A natural goal scorer, Tejada finished his career as the all-time leading scorer in Panama history, finding the back of the net in 43 different occasions for the national team. One of the most memorable of his goals with the national team came against Mexico in 2005.

Luis Tejada scores a 'chilena' against Mexico during the 2006 World Cup Qualifiers

Some of the many records set by Tejada during his accomplished career include 14 goals in World Cup Qualifiers, three more than any other Panamanian player in history. He also helped the 'Canaleros' reach a total of three Gold Cup finals, finishing as the joint top-scorer in 2005 (3 goals) while also winning the award for best player of the tournament.

Tejada scored two career goals against Mexico; the second one came in 2013 at Estadio Azteca

In Gold Cup history, only his long-time striking partner Blas Pérez (11) has scored more goals than him among Central American players.

Tejada made his debut with the national team in 2001 in a Gold Cup playoff match against Cuba. Throughout an international career that lasted almost 17 years, Tejada was able to help Panama qualify to its first-ever World Cup in 2018.

Tejada scored another 'chilena' goal in Liga MX while playing for Toluca in 2012

After a successful campaign that saw the country finish 3rd in CONCACAF, Panama earned a direct ticket to Russia 2018 where they shared group with England, Belgium and Tunisia. Although they lost all three group stage games, Panama made history in their 6-1 loss to England by scoring their first-ever World Cup goal.

His last international goal came against Costa Rica in 2016 during a World Cup Qualifier game, and his last cap for Panama was the 2018 World Cup defeat against Tunisia.

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