Faustino Asprilla has revealed he had to convince a hitman not to kill Jose Luis Chilavert after both players were sent off for clashing in a World Cup qualifying match between Colombia and Paraguay in 1997.
The former Newcastle striker told Colombian television channel TelePacifico the hitman called his hotel room after the match which Paraguay won 2-1, asking for permission to kill Chilavert.
Asprilla responded to the hitman, who was himself killed in a drug-related shootout in 2004, by saying: "What? Are you crazy?
"You'll destroy Colombian football, you can't do that. No, no, no, no. What happens on the pitch stays on the pitch."
The incident underlines the once-strong links between football and the country's drug traffickers such as Pablo Escobar, who was a huge football fan and invested in the game in the 1990s.
In one of the darkest chapters of football history, Colombian defender Andres Escobar was shot dead outside a bar in Medellin in 1994 in apparent retribution for an own goal he scored days earlier that hastened their exit from the World Cup in the USA.