Thursday, January 1, 2015

Colombia Greatest All-time 23 member team

Colombia 2014

Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

Before the 1990's, football in Colombia was probably known for their domestic league in the 1950's.  They lured Alfredo di Stéfano, Neil Franklin and Charlie Mitten to play for Colombian clubs. Then, a Golden Generation arrived in the late 1990's and achieved their first success when they finished 3rd at the Copa America in 1987, ironically a year after the 1986 World Cup in which Colombia was going to host.  Then, in 1990, they reached the 2nd round of the WC Finals, but they were eliminated by a Roger Milla goal that was caused by an error from Rene Higuita.  Expectations of the team were high four years later in the US after going undefeated at the Qualifiers and beating Argentina 5-0 in Buenos Aires.  The team, however, was eliminated in the first round. Andrés Escobar was killed shortly after returning home from the Finals.  After a 16 year absence from the World Cup Finals, Colombia returned to the 2014 Finals in style.  They were the most exciting team in Brazil and reached the quarterfinal. James Rodríguez won the Golden Boot.

If there were an All-Time World Cup, this would be the 23 players I would bring to the tournament.
Copa America 2001 winner

GK: Oscar Cordoba
Oscar Cordoba played for Boca Juniors from 1997 to 2001, perhaps the greatest club side in a generation.  With them, he won the Copa Libertadores 2000 and 2001, and the Intercontinental Cup of 2000.  With 73 caps, he is Colombia's cap record holder for a goalkeeper.  He was the starting keeper that won the 2001 Copa America, Colombia's first ever title.  He named the goalkeeper of the tournament. He was a member of two World Cup team(1994 and 1998).
Oscar Cordoba
GK:  René Higuita
Nicknamed El Loco for his style of football.  He was best remembered for playing outside the penalty box as a sweeper for his team and his scorpion kick vs England in 1995.  He played in the 1990 WC Finals, but missed out the 1994 WC Finals because of a legal issue. He played the majority of his club career with Atlético Nacional where he helped the team to win the Copa Libertadores and Copa Interamericana, both in 1989.

GK: Faryd Mondragón
Faryd Mondragón had 21 years career with the national team.  He became the oldest ever player to play in a WC Finals when he played in Brazil 2014.  He was capped 51 times.  He was named in the Colombian squads for the 1992 Olympics, two Copa América tournaments, two CONCACAF Gold Cups, and the World Cups of 1994, 1998 and 2014.  He played for many clubs in both South America and Europe.  His longest stint was with Galatasaray in Turkey.

RB/CB:  Ivan Cordoba
Ivan Cordoba is one of Colombia's greatest defenders.  He earned over 70 caps for Colombia. He captained Colombia to win the 2001 Copa América competition, scoring the only goal in the final. Córdoba also played for his country in France 1998. He was one of the best defenders in Serie A during his time in Italy.  He spent 12 seasons with Inter Milan between 2000 and 2012, winning the Champions' League in 2010. He also played in Argentina and his native Colombia.
Ivan Cordoba
RW/RB: Juan Guillermo Cuadrado
At the time of writing, Juan Guillermo Cuadrado is considered one of the best right flank players playing in Italy.  He made his name with Fiorentina in Italy.  Since 2010, he had played for Colombia.  He also had an impressive tournament at the 2014 WC Finals in Brazil. He also played for Chelsea, but found more successes when he returned to Italy, playing for Juventus.
CB: Andrés Escobar
Andrés Escobar is best remembered for the ill-fated World Cup Finals in 1994, where he was killed shortly after returning home from the Finals.  Nicknamed The Gentleman, he was well-known for his clean style of play and calmness on the pitch. He was capped 51 times for Colombia from 1988 and 1994.  He went to Italia 1990. He spent most of his career with Atletico Nacional. He spent a single season playing for BSC Young Boys in Switzerland.
Andrés Escobar
CB: Francisco Zuluaga
Francisco Zuluaga is widely considered to be one of the greatest Colombian defenders.  At age 15, Zuluaga began playing as a central defender for Medellín side 7 de Agosto. Next, he joined Unión Indulana where he would be recruited by Millonarios. He joined Millonarios in 1948, where he played with Alfred Di Stefano and won 5 Colombian titles.  He played at the 1962 World Cup Finals in Chile.

CB: Jorge Bermudez 
Jorge Bermudez was a participant at the 1992 Summer Olympics and went on to play 56 times for the full international squad including appearances at the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France and in three editions of the Copa América. He was best remembered for playing with Boca Juniors between 1997 and 2001.  He won a Copa Libertadores in 2000

CB: Mario Yepes 
Mario Yepes played 102 matches for the Colombia.  He was a member the team that won the Copa America in 2001. He captained Colombia at the World Cup Finals in 2014, where they reached the quarterfinal.  It was Colombia's best ever result in the World Cup. As for his club career, he played in Colombia, Argentina, France and Italy.  He began his career with Cortulua and Deportivo Cali.  He was known as one of the best defenders playing in France when he played with Paris St.Germain. 
Mario Yepes 
LB: Juan Camilo Zuniga
Juan Camilo Zuniga made his national team debut in 2005. He had over 60 caps at the time of writing. He played at the World Cup Finals in 2014, but best-remembered for injuring Brazil's Neymar in the quarter-final.  For club football, he was known for his career with Napoli. He played for Atlético Naciona at home and Siena before that.

LB: Diego Osorio 
Because of injuries, Diego Osorio was limited to 17 caps.  He played for Colombia between 1991 and 1995.  He played mainly for Atlético Naciona.  He was known for his dribbling skills.  He was a participant at the Copa America in 1991 and 1993, where Colombia reached the semifinal. He did not play in USA 1994.

DM:  Leonel Álvarez
Leonel Álvarez played 101 times for  Colombia  between 1985 and 1995, making him the 3rd most capped player for Colombia. He played in the 1990 and 1994 World Cup Finals.  He was known for his partnership with Carlos Valderrama. In 1989, he was part of the Atlético Nacional team that won the Copa Libertadores.  He also played in Spain, Mexico and the USA.

CM: Marcos Coll
Marcos Coll was best remembered for scoring a goal directly from a corner kick against Soviet Union at the 1962 WC Finals in Chile, beating Lev Yashin.  Coll started his career with Sporting Barranquilla. In 1956, he played for Independiente Medellín. He later played for Deportes Tolima, América de Cali and Atlético Junior.  

AM:  Carlos Valderrama
Nicknamed El Pibe, Carlos Valderrama was Colombia's greatest ever player.  He was one of the best passers ever from South America.  He was twice South America Player of the Year in 1987 and in 1993. Between 1985 and 1998 he represented Colombia in 111 full internationals and scored 11 times, making him the most capped player in the country's history. He was a star player at the 1990 World Cup Finals in Italy.   He also played in 1994, and 1998 World Cups, and 5 Copa América tournaments.
Carlos Valderrama
AM/FW: Humberto Álvarez
Humberto Álvarez is considered one of the greatest players in Colombia's history.  He  played with Atlético Nacional between 1947 and 1959. He later played for Deportivo Cali and Deportivo Independiente Medellín.  His international career was limited because the national team was banned between 1950 and 1956  because El Dorado. He played for them in the 1957 South American Championship.

AM: Alejandro Brand
Alejandro Brand spent his entire career with Millonarios in Colombia between 1969 and 1982.  He is their all-time leading scorer with 91 goals and considered a legend at the club.  He formed a great partnership with Willington Ortiz over there.  He played the World Cup qualification for 1970, 1974 and 1978.

AM/RW:  Willington Ortiz
Willington Ortiz is considered to be the best players in Colombian history before the emerge of Carlos Valderama.  He was capped 49 times for Colombia. At the domestic club level, he played with Millonarios, Deportivo Cali and America Cali, all in Colombia.  With America Cali, he won 4 straight league titles.  They also lost 3 straight Copa Libertadores between 1985 and 1987. He represented the Colombia 49 times between 1973 and 1985. He helped Colombia to reach the 1983 Copa America final.
Willington Ortiz

CM/FW: Freddy Rincon
Freddy Rincon was one of the most important player during the Golden Generation of the 1990's.  He had 84 caps. He played in 1990, 1994 and 1998 World Cup Finals.  He scored the equalizing goal vs West Germany at Italia 1990, securing Colombia a place in the 2nd round.  He was best remembered for his career in Brazil, where he played for Palmeiras, Corinthians, Santos and Cruzeiro. 

AM: James Rodríguez
James Rodríguez played in the 2014 and 2018 World Cup Finals, where he won the Golden Boot as top goalscorer and was part of the All-tournament team in 2014.  The 2014 edition was Colombia's best ever World Cup Finals. His European career started with Porto and then, Monaco.  After the World Cup Finals, Real Madrid brought him to Spain.  He is widely believed to be the 3rd most expensive signing in Real Madrid history. In 2017, he joined Bayern Munich.
James Rodríguez
FW: Faustino Asprilla
Faustino Asprilla was known for his wild lifestyle outside the game.  He played 57 times for Colombia between 1993 and 2001.  He went to the World Cup Finals in 1994 and 1998. He was known as one of the best attackers in Italy when he played for Parma between 1992 and 1996.  He won a Cup Winners' Cup in 1992. He scored 4 goals in 8 matches during that run. He also played for Newcastle before moving to play in Brazil and Argentina.
Faustino Asprilla
ST: Delio Gamboa
In his career, Delio Gamboa played for Atlético Nacional Millonarios, Independiente Santa Fe, Once Caldas, and Deportes Tolima.  He first made his name with CD Orc, a club in Mexico. He went on to play for Millonarios from 1961–1965. He won the Colombian Domestic League (now the Copa Mustang) title four straight seasons ('61,'62, '63,and'64). He only appeared for one match at the WC 1962 because of an injury.

ST:  Arnoldo Iguaran
Arnoldo Iguaran was at one point the all-time leading goalscorer for the Colombia with 24 or 25 goals(a goal is in dispute) until 2015 when Radamel Falcao broke it.  He went to the World Cup Finals in 1990. He won the Golden Boot at the Copa America in 1987. He spent 12 years at Millonarios, and won the Colombian league in 1987 and 1988 with the club.

ST:  Radamel Falcao
At the time of writing, Radamel Falcao is playing for AS Monaco. He also played for Porto and Atletico Madrid, where he won the Europa Cup for each of them.  He played in the World Cup Finals in 2018, but he missed the 2014 Finals through an injury. He is Colombia's all-time leading scorer. At the club level, he also played in England for Manchester United and Chelsea, and in Argentina with River Plate.
Radamel Falcao
Honorable Mention
Arturo Segovia, Luis Carlos Perea, Cristián Zapata, Victor Aristizabal, Juan Pablo Angel, Adolfo Valencia, Efrain Sanchez, David Ospina.

Squad Explanation
-- Carlos Valderama and Willington Oritz are automatic selections.  Mario Yepes and James Rodriguez probably deserved to be that too.
-- This is probably my youngest squad in the All-Time World Cup.  Most of the players played in the 1980's or after. Only five players played before the 1980's.  A lot of active players are actually selected.
-- The 1990's generation put Colombia on the map. Andres Escobar, René Higuita, Carlos Valderama, Freddy Rincon, Arnoldo Iguaran and Leonel Alvarez played in the 1990 World Cup Finals.  Faustino Asprilla and Faryd Mondragón emerged after the World Cup Finals.  They were added the pool for the USA 1994.  After they beat Argentina 5-0, they became as favourites to win the tournament. Unfortunately, the World Cup Finals was a disaster.
-- Andres Escobar was highly rated in his time.  He would have made this team without his premature death.  However, his death probably created some sympathy to his selection. It happened to public figures who died young all the time.
-- Diego Osorio was highly rated too.  However, injuries limited his career. He only made honorable mention.
-- In 2001, Colombia won the Copa America as host.  From the  winning team, I selected Mario Yepes, Oscar Cordoba and Ivan Cordoba.  Ivan Cordoba had a long successful career with Inter Milan. 
-- The World Cup team of 2014 was Colombia's most successful team.  James Rodriguez, Mario Yepes, Juan Camilo Zuniga, Juan Guillermo Cuadrado and Faryd Mondragón were members of the 2014 World Cup team that reached the quarterfinal.
-- James Rodríguez won the Golden Boot at the World Cup Finals in 2014.  No Colombian achieved more than he did. He made my all-time team immediately even through he was a young player at the time of the creation of my team.
-- Radamel Falcao was the star of the UEFA Cup in 2012 with Atletico Madrid.  His injury in recent years have kept his career from taking off.  In 2016-2017, he seemed to regain some of his old self.  
-- René Higuita was known for his sweeper style of goalkeeping.  The world got to know about at the 1990 World Cup Finals.  His style sealed his place in the history of the football in Colombia.  However, I do believe that Oscar Cordoba or Faryd Mondragón might be a better goalkeeper.
-- Willington Oritz is one of the greatest Colombian player before the emerge of Carlos Valderama. He is not rated as high as Valderama because he never played club football outside of South America and he never played in a World Cup Finals. 
-- At his peak, Faustino Asprilla was probably Colombia's greatest striker, but his peak was short.  Nevertheless, he made my all-time team.
-- "El Dorado" is the era in the Colombia football league from 1949 to 1954, when the league broke away from FIFA. Therefore, all Colombian teams were suspended from playing international football. The Colombian national team was also under sanction. 

Starting lineup 
Formation 4-2-1-3


  1. Great team and great website. But Freddy Rincon has to be a starter for Colombia. He was too good and his goal against Germany is perhaps the most important in Colombian soccer history.

  2. Remenber that Zuñiga played as RB aswell, especially at the 2014 WC, with Armero playing as LB.

  3. He formed a great partnership with Willington Ortiz over there, let's join us agen judi bola