Colombian midfielder Freddy Rincón dead at 55 after car crash

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Freddy Rincón, the former Colombian midfielder and captain of the national football team Selección Colombia, has died at age 55.

Rincón was a passenger in a car that hit a municipal MIO bus in the southwestern city of Cali on Sunday night. The much admired footballer who played 84 games for Colombia in three World Cups and scored two of the winning five goals for Colombia in the legendary 1993 match against Argentina’s Albiceleste was admitted to the Imbanaco clinic with severe head injuries as a result of the collision.

Rincón remained in a coma in an ICU ward until his passing close to midnight on Wednesday. The Colombian Football Federation (FCF) released a statement remembering his participation in World Cups Italy 1990, United States 1994 and France 1998, as well as the South American Football League CONMEBOL in the Copas América Chile 1991, Ecuador 1993 and Uruguay 1995.

“The FCF deeply regrets the death of Freddy Eusebio Rincón Valencia, and sends a message of support and encouragement to his family, friends and relatives at this difficult time.

Rincón was the first Colombian to wear the white jersey of the Spanish team Real Madrid before joining Sao Paulo’s Palmeiras, Corinthians Paulista and Napoli for their 1994/95 season. 

During his time with Corinthians the club won the 1998/1999 Brazilian championship and the first FIFA World Cup in 2000. Corinthians tributed Rincón with news of his death, stating on Twitter: “We say goodbye to our captain who gave us our first world title. Eternally in our hearts.”

Many Colombians will also remember Rincón for the brilliant goal he scored against Germany in Milan’s San Siro stadium on June 19 during the 1990 World Cup. Playing into injury time, Colombia needed a goal to draw the game and avoid elimination from the tournament at the group stages. Rincón accompanied by fellow midfielder Carlos “Pibe” Valderrama, scored a decisive victory against Deutschland’s goalkeeper Bodo Illgner.

Rincón’s death “constitutes a great loss for his family and friends, and it is also an unfortunate departure for our sport, where we will miss him and remember him with great affection, appreciation, respect and admiration,” reads the FCF statement. We send strength, support and our condolences to his family, hoping they can bear this sad and painful loss.”

Rincón was born in 1966 in Colombia’s pacific port city Buenaventura and earned the pitch nickname “Colossus.” His larger-than-life smile, self-effacing sense of humor and dedication to the sport endeared him to Colombians. He is survived by his son Sebastián Rincón who plays professionally for the Argentine football Club Barracas.

The untimely passing of a Colombian football great has sparked worldwide reaction from the sport’s most famous players.

Statement from FIFA:

“We join together with many in the world of football to remember Freddy Rincon. Our sincere condolences go to his loved ones, former teammates and fans from the clubs he played for, and of the @FCFSeleccionCol national team who he represented at three World Cups. Rest in Peace.”