Remembering the captain of Colombia’s golden football generation: Freddy Rincón

By Freek Huigen April 14, 2022

Freddy Rincón, one of Colombia’s best footballers in history has passed away after being injured in a car crash

Freddy Rincón
Freddy Rincón after his key goal against Germany at the World Cup in 1990.

Freddy Rincón died on Wednesday, aged 55. The former captain of the Colombian national team succumbed to the severe injuries he sustained in a car crash in Cali in the early hours of Monday morning.

Rincón was taken to hospital with severe head trauma, and died two days later from his injuries. It seems the car had jumped a red light and was hit by a bus at full speed. The bus driver and three other passengers in the car were also injured. According to the hospital, none of them are in critical condition. 

Rincón one of the most famous Colombian footballers of all-time

Freddy Eusebio Rincón Valencia became world famous in the nineties as captain of the golden generation of Colombian football. The creative central midfielder represented los cafeteros in three different World Cup championships. He played alongside other stars like Carlos “el pibe” Valderrama, Andrés Escobar and Tino Asprilla. Rincón and Valderrama still share the record of most World Cup matches played for Colombia, with 10 games each.

Rincón is most remembered for the 1-1 against Germany in the 1990 World Cup. It was the first time in history Colombia had reached the knockout stages of the World Cup.

Another memorable moment became known as el cinco cero. In a 1993 World Cup qualification match in the United States, Colombia recorded a famous 5-0 victory over Maradona’s Argentina with two goals from a prolific Rincón. 

Freddy Rincón’s club career included spells at Napoli and Real Madrid

Born in Buenaventura, Valle del Cauca, Freddy Rincón was brought to Bogotá by an Independiente Santa Fe representative and made his professional debut for that club in 1986. He quickly became one of the best players in the league, and moved to América de Cali, at that point one of the biggest clubs in South America. After winning several titles with América, Rincón moved to Brazil to play for Palmeiras. Soon after el cinco cero he went to Europe to play for Napoli. 

After a successful season at Napoli, Real Madrid signed the gracious central midfielder, making him the first Colombian to feature in the Champions League. In Spain, he suffered from racist abuse from sections of Real Madrid fans. The celebrated footballer didn’t feel he got a serious chance there, so he moved back to Brazil where he became captain of Corinthians. Rincón led his team to victory in the World Cup for Clubs in 2000. 

After his active career, Rincón came back to professional football in short spells in different manager and assistant manager positions. However, he was very much on the sidelines and hasn’t been actively involved in football since he left Millonarios in 2019. Nonetheless Rincón left his mark on generations of Colombian football and will be mourned by many.