Former Colombia national team captain Freddy Rincon, who competed in three World Cups, has died after suffering head injuries in a car accident.

He was 55.

His vehicle collided with a bus in Cali, Colombia on Monday. He passed away on Wednesday.

Rincon scored 17 goals in 84 appearances for the South American country, competing at the 1990, 1994 and 1998 World Cups. He played in 10 World Cup matches, a Colombian record he shares with the great Carlos Valderrama.

“We will miss him and remember him with great affection, appreciation, respect and admiration,” the Colombian Football Federation stated.

The Colombian international also performed for America de Cali, Napoli, Real Madrid, Palmeiras, Santos and Corinthians. He helped the latter side captured the first FIFA Club World Championship (2000), which is now known as the Club World Cup.

“We join together with many in the world of football to remember Freddy Rincon,” FIFA said on Twitter.

At the 1990 World Cup, he scored a goal against eventual champions West Germany in a 1-1 tie that allowed Colombia to reach the knockout round.

During qualifying for the 1994 World Cup, the 6-1, 176-lb. Rincon tallied five goals for Colombia, twice a brace in a 5-0 clinching win over Argentina in Buenos Aires. Only weeks after the triumph, the match already was legendary. Appliance stores repeatedly showed tapes of the game in their windows. A song entitled “Cinco a cero” was released by a leading band.

“It was very exciting,” Rincon was quoted in Michael Lewis’ 1994 book World Cup Soccer. “The Argentines were talking too much before the game. They said that they had history in football, that we didn’t and that we weren’t going to change history. But we didn’t get involved. We just went out and did our thing.”

The team also hoped to use USA ’94 to show the world that there was more to Colombia than the image of a nation overcome by drug traffickers.

“We have a mission to change this unfortunate situation through our football,” Rincon said. “Every game will be important for us in this respect.”

It didn’t work out.

The Colombians were considered one of the favorites to win the 1994 World Cup, but could not get out of Group A, as it was upset by the United States, 2-1, in one of the latter’s most historic victories.

Colombia finished last in the group with a 1-2-0 record and returned home in disgrace.

Andres Escobar, who had scored an own goal in the USA loss, was murdered in his hometown of Medellin days after the loss. His death cast a shadow over the rest of the tournament.

After retiring as a player in 2004, Rincon pursued a coaching career, which included the Corinthians youth team and most recently as an assistant coach with Atletico Mineiro in 2010.

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