Famous Columbian Footballers: Colombian National Football/Soccer Team.
Football (fútbol) is one of the most popular recreational sports in Colombia. As a football-loving nation, Colombia has produced some of the soccer greats that have been known the world over for their skills and individual contribution to the sport. Some of these names have become synonymous with soccer itself.
:: Colombian National Football / Soccer Team
Known as Los Cafeteros (The Coffee Growers), the Colombian National Football Team is managed by the FCF (Federacion Colombiana de Futbol), which was founded back in 1924. The FCF officially joined FIFA in 1936 and is also a member of CONMEBOL, the South American Football Association. The team became a force to be reckoned with during the 80s and 90s, when it qualified for the World Cup three times in a row. Influx of cash from a supportive drug trade enabled the team to develop strong players and winning tactics. This period was a time when players became recognized all over the world, when Valderrama wigs were sported throughout the 1994 World Cup, and those at home watching were warned not to imitate Higuita’s on-field gymnastics.
Colombia marked the first time it qualified in a World Cup tournament in 1962, but it took 28 years for it to qualify again in Italy. A dark chapter of Colombian football was written after the 1994 World Cup when the team lost to the United States 2-1. Ten days after the team returned to Colombia, three people approached Andres Escobar, one of the best defenders in South America, and shot him a dozen times in front of his girlfriend. It turned out the three lost a lot of money when Colombia was eliminated and blamed Escobar for scoring his own goal during the first half of the match. One hundred twenty thousand people attended Escobar’s funeral while the murderer was eventually released in 2005 after only 11 years in prison. Several other notable footballers were murdered and crippled for non-football related incidents during the last 20 years, most notably Albeiro Uzurriaga in 2004, adding to the tragedy of Colombian football.
Colombia has only won the Copa America once in 2001, which the country hosted, and were runner ups in the 1975 Copa America which was won by Peru. The team’s most legendary moment was its 5-0 victory over Argentina in 1993. The team is considered the champion with the best performance in Copa America’s history, playing and winning all six matches in 2001, scoring 11 goals and taking none in turn. It also possessed the three best strikers in the tournament, with Ernesto Diaz’s 4 goals in 1975, Arnoldo Iguaran’s 4 goals in 1987 and Victor Aristizabal’s 6 goals in 2001.
The most successful teams in the nation’s history are Bogota’s Millionarios and Cali’s America de Cali, who each have 13 titles to their names. Other popular clubs are Medellin’s Atletico Nacional, Bogota’s Independiente Santa Fe, Tunja’s Chico and Junior de Barranquilla.
Recent misfortune struck when head coach Hernán Darío Gómez resigned after being accused of assaulting a woman in August 2011. Nevertheless, the national team forges ahead with its dreams of glory during the next couple of years. It still stands as a symbol of pride for Colombia against the negative stereotypes surrounding the country, and maintains a loyal and passionate fan base both in national and international tournaments..