Bolivian Gottardi dies after two-year illness
Posted: Thursday September 4, 2003 7:36PM; Updated: Thursday September 4, 2003 8:42PM
LA PAZ (Reuters) -- Bolivian professional footballer Jefferson Gottardi has died after a two-year battle against illness, his former team mate Luis Cristaldo said Thursday.
The 27-year-old striker played for local clubs Oriente Petrolero and Bolivar as well as clubs in Venezuela, the United States and Brazil and the Bolivian under-20 team. He played 11 games for the Tampa Bay Mutiny in U.S. Major League Soccer in 1999, scoring four goals.
"Jefferson was a good team mate and a great friend," veteran Cristaldo told reporters at the Bolivian national team training camp, where the squad are preparing for Sunday's opening World Cup qualifier away to Uruguay.
"His death has moved the whole Bolivian squad. We'll do everything we can to dedicate a victory to him against in Montevideo on Sunday."
Cristaldo and Bolivia captain Marco Antonio Sandy had been running a campaign to raise funds for the treatment of Gottardi's debilitating illness.
The Bolivian newspaper La Razon said Gottardi, a product of the famous Tahuichi football academy in Santa Cruz, had been suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also called Lou Gehrig's disease.
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