Colombian soccer star James Rodriguez made a huge splash at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The striker is being internationally recognized on a grand scale, in addition to his successes with the national team and various clubs across Europe and South America.
In one of the most expensive transfers in the history of the sport, Monegasque side AS Monaco, which plays in the Ligue 1 (France’s highest league) bought James from FC Porto for $61.6 million, joining teammate Radamel Falcao.
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Only one year later, he joined Spanish giants Real Madrid for a staggering $114 million.
James became one of the youngest players to ever debut in the Colombian professional league at the age of 15 with his youth club Envigado FC. After two years with Envigado, James was picked up by Argentine squad Banfield, where he was the youngest non-Argentine player to ever debut in the Argentine league.
After starring for Banfield at the 2011 U-20 World Cup hosted in Colombia, James made the move to the “Colombian soccer factory” of FC Porto in Portugal, following in the footsteps of fellow Colombians Fredy Guarin and Radamel Falcao.
Porto allowed James’ skills to be recognized on an international level. James paired up with Falcao in his first year at Porto before having a terrific season alongside Colombian Jackson Martinez in his second and third years.
The 2011-12 season saw James as the fifth leading scorer in the league, subsequently being voted the “breakthrough” player of the year by the Portuguese League. The next year, he was named Golden Ball winner – given to the best player in the Portuguese league – at the age of 20, the youngest player to have ever received the award.
James was named player of the month in the Portuguese league twice in the 2012-13 seasons along with being the 10th leading scorer.
Famed English squad Manchester United offered $41 million for James, which Porto rejected stating the price was too low.
Recently purchased by Russian billionaire-owned squad AS Monaco, the micro country of Monaco successfully offered $61.6 million for James, where he would join fellow Colombian Radamel Falcao once more.
During the 2013-14 Ligue 1 season, James had more assists than any other player with 12. AS Monaco finished second in the Ligue 1, one year after being promoted from the second division, thanks to Dmitry Rybolovlev’s (the Russian billionaire) investments.
James joined Spanish giants Real Madrid for the sum of $114 million – the fourth largest transfer sum in history – after rumors of English powerhouse Manchester United, or German champions Bayern München desire to sign him.
He has so far made 70 appearances for the Spanish giants, scoring 23 goals in the process.
The 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign saw James play a key role for the national team, regularly starting while netting three goals throughout the qualifying campaigns against Peru, Chile, and Ecuador.
Falcao’s pre-World Cup injury caused much concern about leadership and play-making abilities on the team, to which James has exceeded expectations.
Thus far, the 2014 World Cup has been a showcase of talent for James. Up until the quarterfinals, James scored six goals in total, netting at least one in every match as well as two assists. James also won the golden boot trophy, awarded to the highest scoring player in the World Cup.
James won “man of the match” in three of the four games he played in and was ranked best player of the 2014 World Cup by FIFA’s “Castrol Index” official player ranking system. James’ ranking fell to second after the Round of 16 game against Uruguay, but he remained the top midfielder in the tournament.
James was also voted to have scored the first and third best goals of the World Cup, the first a stunning volley against Uruguay in the Round of 16, and the third a chip over the goalkeeper against Japan in the group stage to make the score 4 – 1.
His totality as a player, combined with his personality and domestic and international popularity has led him to be compared to who is perhaps the most famous #10 Colombia has ever seen, Carlos “El Pibe” Valderrama.
James Rodriguez married the younger sister of Colombia’s star goalkeeper David Ospina, Daniela, when he was 19 and she was 18. They have one daughter together named Salome, whose name he has tattooed on his right forearm.
James Rodríguez, el papá 10 (Jet Set)