James Rodriguez is Brazil’s fear factor in World Cup

2014-07-04 09:04

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Fortaleza, Brazil – With his five goals, his bright-yellow jersey and his boyish looks, James Rodriguez has attracted the attention of Brazil.

Precocious and virtuoso are just two of the words used to describe the 22-year-old play maker ahead of Colombia’s World Cup quarterfinal match against host Brazil today.

Rodriguez is already Colombia’s top scorer at a World Cup and is the leading scorer so far at this year’s tournament. For many, James has been a revelation at the World Cup.

But for those who have followed his football career, there has been no surprise.

They knew he was talented, had a winning mentality and could give Colombians something they have been awaiting for a long time. He has been consolidating himself as the replacement for Carlos “el Pibe” Valderrama, the leading figure of a national team that played in three World Cups in the 1990s.

Faustino Asprilla, an ex-Colombia player from that generation, said Rodriguez “can be the best Colombian footballer in history”.

His technical abilities have been exceptional and he has shown them off in Brazil. He scores with surprising ease, has scored in each of Colombia’s matches and has done it with his feet and his head.

In Colombia’s 2-0 win over Uruguay, he controlled the ball with his chest and shot from outside the area to score perhaps the most stunning goal of the tournament.

“Football needs players of his characteristics for this spectacle,” Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez said. “For the moment, he’s the best player at this World Cup.”

Despite his nickname, “el Nino” arrived in Brazil with the curriculum of a veteran: eight years playing as a professional in Colombia, Argentina, Portugal and France.

In 2010, he moved to Porto, where he shared a dressing room with fellow Colombia team-mates Radamel Falcao, Fredy Guarin and later, Jackson Martinez. In Portugal, he won three league titles and the Europa League before signing with Monaco, which paid €45 million (R656 million) for his transfer last season.

Rodriguez’s feats are transcending football and comments about his talent are all over social media.

“Man, watching this Colombian game I think I have my fav player in the world cup!” NBA player LeBron James said. “Obviously his name help that out.”

Rodriguez will turn 23 on July 12, the eve of the World Cup final at the Maracana, and all of Colombia hopes that he will help guide the team there.

“It’s a group that wants to make history,” Rodriguez said. “This isn’t over.”

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