Attacking midfielder. Winger. Forward. Poacher. Playmaker. Any team, national or domestic, would be called extremely fortunate if they had at least one player of the above types in their ranks. But what would you call a team that has all five, not individually, but as the same person? This is precisely what the Colombian men’s national football team is blessed with, because they have James Rodriguez in their squad.
Born on July 12th, 1991, in Cúcuta, Colombia, the youngster has made giant strides in both, international as well as the European domestic arena. Earmarked as a precocious talent right from his childhood, he was brilliant in his early professional years playing for South American clubs, especially the Argentinian team, Banfield. His roving movements from midfield into the box made people compare him with Cristiano Ronaldo, who was also a winger cum attacking midfielder.
His foray into Europe began with FC Porto in the Portuguese league in 2010. For the next three years, he scored goal after goal, and made assist after assist, as his fame and reputation ballooned, along with his skills and talents. He was assigned the playmaker’s jersey number 10, which was a testament to his technique and vision on the football field.
James Rodriguez Moved to Monaco in 2013
In 2013, he moved to the French side AS Monaco for a fee of €45 million, which was at that time, one of the highest in French domestic league. His proclivity for goals and assists never waned, as he helped Monaco into the Champions League that year. His talent was so evident that it was the general consensus amongst the French that he was one of the best footballers in Ligue1.
A year later, he found himself in the fifth largest domestic transfer in club football history, as he moved to the European giants Real Madrid for a fee of approximately €80 million. He considered it the fulfilment of a lifelong passion to be a Galáctico for the Spanish side, and to emulate his childhood idol, the great Zinedine Zidane.
This transfer signalled a meteoric rise in football fans in his home country of Colombia, a fact the Colombian President made it known himself, as his thoughts were relayed to a 45,000 strong stadium as Rodriguez was unveiled for the first time at Real Madrid. Since then, the playmaker’s name has been on the lips of every young Colombian footy aficionado. He is a great role model for his country’s youth, who seek to follow in his footsteps into football glory.
The extent of Rodriguez’s contribution to his country’s football scene is not limited to just inspiration from afar. As early as his under-17 career for his country, he helped the team reach the finals of both the South American and FIFA U-17 World Cups. Four years later, he was already captaining the under-20 side.
He immediately made a mark in his debut game for the senior team in 2011, for which he was even awarded as the man of the match. The next three years saw him earn more caps for his country in various Friendlies and international tournaments. However, his crowning glory so far in his international career was the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Donning the prestigious jersey number 10, he demolished his opponents with phenomenal skill and expertise. At the end of the tournament, Rodriguez was the highest scorer of the tournament for which he won the Golden Boot, an astounding fact given that Colombia managed to reach only as far as the quarterfinals. His goal in the Round of 16 versus Uruguay was voted the best goal of the tournament, and even the legendary Diego Maradona had nothing but words of praise for him.
He was made captain for the recently concluded 2016 Copa America, where he led the team admirably until the semi-finals, losing to eventual champions Chile. His style of play, versatility in position, vision in attack, nimbleness in dribbling, and marksmanship in free kicks have garnered him numerous fans across the globe, more so in his own country, where he is lovingly regarded as the biggest football superstar that Colombia has ever produced.