Former Colombia soccer captain Freddy Rincón has died after being involved in a car crash in Cali, the hospital treating him said in a statement.
The 55-year-old Rincón was admitted to hospital on Monday following a car accident in the early hours of the day, CNN en Español reported, citing local media.
Five people were injured in the accident, which involved a van with four occupants, including the former player, and a bus, the Undersecretary of Mobility of Cali, Edwing Candelo, told the newspaper, El País Cali.
Cali’s The Imbanaco Clinic said “despite all the efforts made by our medical and assistance team, the patient Freddy Eusebio Rincón Valencia, has died today April 13, 2022.”
“There will never be a way to express what this really means for us, we invite the entire country to remember him with happiness for everything that he brought into life with his sporting successes,” the hospital added.
A ‘painful loss’
Rincón played in three World Cups – 1990, 1994 and 1998 – and scored 17 goals in 84 games for Colombia.
The Colombian Football Federation paid tribute, saying in a statement: “This is a huge loss for his family and friends, and at the same time is a regrettable loss for our sport, where we’ll miss him and remember him with great care, appreciation, respect and admiration.”
“We send strength, support and our condolences to his family, hoping that they can support this sad and painful loss,” the statement added.
Real Madrid, who Rincón played for between 1995 and 1996, also paid tribute to him, expressing “condolences and care and affection to all of his family, teammates and managers, his clubs and all his loved ones.”
Born in 1966 in Buenaventura, in western Colombia, he was one of the key players of his country’s golden generation in the 1990s.
Notably, he scored against West Germany at the 1990 World Cup in Milan’s San Siro stadium, his goal coming late in the game to secure a 1-1 draw giving Colombia a place in the round-of-16 after the country’s 28-year absence from the tournament.
Rincón also scored two goals in a famed 5-0 win against Argentina in Buenos Aires in 1993.
In Colombia, he played for Santa Fe and América de Cali, with whom he won three trophies.
In 1994, Rincón joined Brazilian club Palmeiras, before then moving to Europe. He played for Italian club Napoli and then joined Spanish giant Real Madrid, becoming the first Colombian footballer to play for the La Liga club.
Rincón returned to Brazil in 1996, where he won three local titles and a Club World Cup with Corinthians.
He retired as a player in 2004 and later coached third division teams in Brazil. He was an assistant to former Brazil coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo at Atlético Mineiro in 2010 and to Jorge Luis Pinto at Millonarios de Colombia in 2019.
Matias Grez contributed reporting.