A Willington Ortiz appreciation post

Before the likes of James Rodríguez, Falcao, Carlos Valderrama, Freddy Rincón, and Faustino Asprilla, there was Willington Ortiz. Born Willington José Ortiz Palacio on 26th March 1952 in Tumaco, Colombia, played scored 12 goals in 49 appearances for the Colombia national team and scored over 200 goals in his club career. He was also one of the greatest Colombian players never to appear in at FIFA World Cup.

Infobae wrote a piece for his 70th birthday in March:

My dad tells me, because I couldn’t see him play, that the best thing was to watch him run and score a goal without stopping the race. He was very good at it, he also managed both profiles, so he could easily attack from both sides of the field. His curly hair stood out from the heads of the other players. It was the fastest pile of hair in Colombia. He was the host of the national team for almost the entire decade of the 70s and one of the leading players in the sport on the continent.

When I was about to finish school, Caracol Radio was raffling the two volumes of the History of the Colombian National Team, written by Guillermo Ruíz Bonilla, and my dad won one of the games. He gave me the encyclopedia and I threw myself into it as a good football player. In volume 1 I found a text written by Willington Ortiz, with his photograph at the top, in which he narrated his memoirs with the national team. “I made my debut in that remembered team that wore the sapote shirt at the Munich Olympics in 1972. Colombia shared a group with Poland, in the end Gold Medal, East Germany, Bronze Medal, and the Ghanaian team. In front of the teams behind the iron curtain, we received two goals. Against Ghanaians we won by 3 – 1 (…) After that first experience I was demonstrating my great quality in the national rental, playing for Millionarios. For these great performances I was called by Yugoslav Todor Veselinovic to form the group that would be in the 1974 German Qualifiers. That June 5, 1975 would change history by being the author of the goal with which the national team beat Uruguay at the Centenario stadium in Montevideo, being the first time that the “charruas” lost as locals in history, an achievement that few remember today. People don’t remember it much because there was no television at that time. It was an important goal because we beat a very strong Uruguay that had not lost for years. The play was started by Ernesto Díaz, with whom we made a wall, returning the ball to the space, he alludes to the score and throws the center; I played as a point starting from behind, I entered from the right side and I put the ball to the goalkeeper on the left side and he enters flush. That’s how we won the game. The joy was great for the whole team at the end of the match (…). I always gave my best to the National Team, because Colombia deserved its players to give everything.”

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