Four Colombian national soccer team members have been included in a prestigious list of 100 best players in the world in 2014 published by an English magazine FourFourTwo on Monday.
The 8th edition of the list acknowledged the successful year for Colombian soccer, highlighted by the national team’s high 3rd spot in the FIFA/Coca Cola world ranking and the impressive performance at the summer World Cup in Brazil, where it reached quarterfinals only to narrowly lose to the hosts.
“The 100 Best Football Players in the World 2014 features a few surprises, but nothing that hasn’t been argued long and hard by our global network of experts,” reads the introduction to the article.
James – 32
First up is James Rodriguez who settled on the 32nd position. Over the past year “James” has sprung up into superstardom, and not only in his native Colombia. Fantastic performances at the world’s biggest stage, the 2014 Fifa World Cup, capped by the Golden Boot award saw Rodriguez change clubs in a big-money move from AS Monaco to Real Madrid. At the Spanish giants, the 23-year-old midfielder’s began his debut season in flying colors.
According to the website, “the year 2014 has seen James go from hipster favorite to household name – and one pronounced correctly, too.”
MORE: James Rodriguez (Profile)
Falcao – 39
Few spots behind, on the 39th, is the 28-year old Radamel Falcao. The inclusion of the striker nicknamed “El Tigre” might be regarded a surprise, as Falcao spent most of the year injured, missing out on the World Cup and continuing fitness troubles in Fall at Manchester United. However, the Colombian center forward scored 9 goals in 13 the qualifiers for the tournament in Brazil and is considered the country’s most coveted athlete of the past decade.
“The 28-year-old’s pedigree is undisputed – 142 goals in 177 games for Porto and Atletico Madrid says so – but the fact he’s started only 11 games this calendar year meant a tumble down this list was inevitable,” FourFourTwo explained the choice.
Cuadrado – 67
Juan Cuadrado of Italian outfit Fiorentina has had a real breakthrough season both for the club and the national team. With the Florence-based team, the quicksilver winger notched up 15 goals and 11 assists throughout the year. With “Los Cafeteros” he proved an excellent supportive act for James’ lead role at the World Cup, becoming the leading assists provider at the summer tournament. Despite rife speculations about imminent move to a greater European club, Cuadrado stuck around in Italy. Not for long, it seems.
The English magazine touted the 26-year-old Cuadrado stating he “offers defensive discipline coupled with proven attacking verve.”
Martinez – 92
Jackson Martinez rounds up the Colombian contingent on the list, at the 92nd position. The FC Porto center forward has been the most prolific striker of the calendar year in the Portuguese league, winning the top goalscorer award in May. The 28-year-old “hitman” is expected to move his talents to an even stronger league soon.
According to the authors of the list Martinez “was overshadowed at the World Cup by compatriot James Rodriguez, and that may have in part cost him a big summer move, but his superb start to this season (he scored 13 in his first 17 in the Primeira Liga and Champions League) should see vultures circling again before long.”