Colombia’s star midfielder James Rodriguez was voted as the best player in the World Cup in a recent opinion poll, beating out the official MVP of the tournament, Lionel Messi.
Although Argentina’s Lionel Messi won the Golden Ball award for being the most exceptional player in the World Cup, it was James who was voted the star of the tournament by fans, according to Spain’s sporting news site, AS.
In the opinion poll conducted by AS, 36.43% of readers felt that James deserved to be the winner. Messi, widely considered the best player in the world, was voted in third with 14%, behind Germany’s Toni Kroos, who received 26.45%.
James, who was a candidate for FIFA’s Golden Ball selection, did take home the prestigious Golden Boot award, which recognizes the top goalscorer in the tournament. The Colombian wunderkind tallied six goals in five games for “Los Cafeteros.”
Adding to Colombia’s list of accomplishments at the World Cup, the Colombian national team won the Fair Play trophy for being the team with the cleanest disciplinary record with five yellow cards, zero expulsions (red cards), and a berth in the knockout stages of the tournament (a requirement for the award).
As for Messi, the Argentine showed little enthusiasm for winning the Golden Ball, saying, “The significance of winning the Golden Ball means nothing. They only thing I wanted to win was the World Cup,” according to ESPN.
Former Argentine great and winner of the 1986 Golden Ball, Diego Maradona, also weighed in on Messi’s award, claiming it was a marketing scheme by FIFA, according to Spain’s Punto Pelota sporting news.
“Messi? I would give Lio the heavens, but when marketers want to award him something that he didn’t [deserve to] win, it’s unfair,” said Maradona, adding, “I could see that he didn’t want to go up and collect it.”
Maradona went on to say that James Rodriguez deserved to win the Golden Ball.