Rarely does a footballer touch the heart of a nation like Freddy Rincón did in Colombia.
This is why the death of this 55-year-old man has aroused a wave of emotion in his country of origin.
“It’s a huge loss for his family and friends, and at the same time it’s a regrettable loss for our sport, where he will be missed and remembered with great care, appreciation, respect. and admiration,” said the Colombian Football Federation. in a report.
“We send strength, support and our condolences to his family, hoping that they can bear this sad and painful loss.”
An influential figure in Colombia’s golden generation of players in the 1990s, the versatile midfielder marked a new era for the country’s football team.
He played and eventually captained his country in 84 games, helping them to three World Cups, in 1990, 1994 and 1998.
Many will remember him for his goal against West Germany in the 1990 World Cup at the San Siro Stadium in Milan – one of the most memorable goals in his country’s history.
After a smooth passing motion, it was up to Rincón to kick the ball through the keeper’s legs with just seconds to play.
With it, Rincón had secured a 1-1 draw against the eventual World Cup winners and progressed to the knockout stages after Colombia’s 28-year absence from the tournament.
The joy on his face during the wild celebrations likely matched that of millions of Colombians who would have been inspired by this team.
While becoming a leading figure in his national team, Rincón also enjoyed a successful club career.
Born in 1966 in Buenaventura, western Colombia, Rincón went on to play for Santa Fe and América de Cali, with whom he won three trophies.
He then moved to Brazil, specifically Palmeiras, in 1994 before moving through some of Europe’s top teams.
He played in Italy with Napoli then later became the first Colombian to play for Real Madrid.
In truth, Rincón didn’t have a good time in Spain and returned to Brazil in 1996, first on loan at Palmeiras and then permanently with Corinthians in 1997.
He played the rest of his career in Brazil, winning the inaugural FIFA Club World Championship with Corinthians in 2000, before retiring as a player in 2004.
Retirement saw him turn to coaching and he spent spells with a number of lower league clubs in Brazil.
A range of his former clubs have paid tribute to the man who has brought so much joy to so many during his playing career.
Palmeiras called him an “idol”, while Real Madrid said the club were “deeply saddened” by the news.
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Later in life, Rincón became an assistant to former Brazil coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo at Atlético Mineiro in 2010 and Jorge Luis Pinto at Millonarios de Colombia in 2019.
After his death, Rincón will be remembered by many as the player who captured Colombia’s imagination during a particular period in the country’s sporting history.