Colombian 'Colossus' Freddy Rincon critical after bus crash

Former Real Madrid and Napoli player was taken to hospital suffering from a 'severe head injury'

In this file photo taken on June 29, 2000 , Colombia's Freddy Rincon, left, is challenged by Argentina's Diego Simeone during their South American qualification football match for the 2002 World Cup. AFP
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Former Colombia midfielder Freddy Rincon is in critical condition following a collision between a vehicle he was traveling in and a bus, authorities said on Monday.

The 55-year-old former Real Madrid and Napoli player was taken to hospital suffering from a "severe head injury," said Dr Laureano Quintero of the Imbanaco Grupo Quironsalud clinic in the southern Colombian city of Cali.

Dr Quintero said Rincon spent almost three hours in surgery before being transferred to intensive care where he was described as being in a "very critical condition".

A Cali bus and "a truck seemingly carrying four people" collided at around 4.30am (9.30 GMT), said Edwing Candelo, the local transport undersecretary. Cancelo said five people were injured in the crash, including the bus driver.

Local media shared a video that showed the bus hitting the passenger side of the truck at a crossroads.

Candelo said the images "suggest that the traffic light was red when the truck crossed."

He said both the truck and bus could have been speeding.

The bus driver passed a breath test for alcohol, while Candelo said it was not known who was driving the truck.

Hamilton Ricard, a former Colombia international striker and a close friend of Rincon's, visited his family at the hospital and didn't sound optimistic when he spoke to journalists outside.

“If he is saved, he will have a lot of side-effects,” Ricard said. “We are praying for God to put his hands on Freddy, the doctors have said the truth.”

Rincon was born in the southwestern port city of Buenaventura and was known as the "Colossus" during his career.

He was a star of the Colombia side that played at the World Cup in Italy in 1990 that reached the last-16 and also appeared at the 1994 and 1998 finals. He is one of the team's most memorable players during that decade, alongside Carlos Valderrama and Faustino Asprilla.

Rincon retired from the national team in after 84 national team appearances and 17 goals.

He played much of his club career in Brazil, turning out for Palmeiras and Corinthians, where he won the Fifa Club World Cup in 2000.

Corinthians posted the following message on Twitter: "All our prayers are with our world champion ... Stay strong Freddy."

Real Madrid said on Twitter "all of our strength and affection for Freddy Rincon following the accident he was involved in today. We send our encouragement and we hope that he overcomes this difficult moment as soon as possible."

Updated: April 12, 2022, 9:56 AM