Faryd Mondragon was Colombia’s first-choice goalkeeper during the 1998 FIFA World Cup France™, their most recent appearance on the global stage. The 42-year-old has the distinction of being only the second Colombian after Carlos Valderrama to have taken part in five different World Cup qualifying campaigns, albeit as a non playing member for three of those.
Mondragon first experienced FIFA’s flagship tournament as understudy to Oscar Cordoba at USA 1994 and has been part of the squad for each subsequent qualifying campaign except that of South Africa 2010. And while he did not accrue any playing time on the road to Brazil, his imposing physique and personality mean he continues to be as commanding in the box as ever.
Mondragon brings vast experience to the current Cafetero squad, something coach Jose Pekerman values highly, not least because El Turco (The Turk) is the only squad member to have previously competed at a World Cup.
The keeper’s 24-year professional career has taken him to various corners of the globe, with spells at Independiente in Argentina, Galatasaray in Turkey and FC Koln in Germany, among others. If there is one team that defines him, however, it is Deportivo Cali – the club where he made his debut at 19 and where he is again a key player today.
For the evergreen shot-stopper, a third World Cup would be a fitting end to a long and successful career.