By: Adriana Correa
If you haven’t yet heard the name James Rodriguez, chances are you’ve spent the entire World Cup, or should I say, “The World Cup of James Rodriguez” living under a rock!
The soccer player who simply goes by his first name ‘James’ pronounced HAAHM-ESS, and not JAY-MZ, played for Colombia’s national team and became THE breakout star of the World Cup in Brazil.
According to NBC Sports, the 23 year-old forward penned a six year deal for an estimated $107-million with the Real Madrid soccer club, one of the biggest clubs in Europe, making him one of the top fourth most expensive transfers of all time.
James, an already established soccer player in Colombia and Europe, catapulted to soccer super stardom in Brazil after scoring a goal in every game, leading the team into the round of 16. He then made history in the process, by helping his team advance-for the first time ever-into the quarter-finals match with two of his goals against Uruguay.
Although Colombia’s magic ended in a 2-1 loss against host Brazil, James went on to be awarded the Adidas Golden Boot for being the top scorer of the World Cup with a total of six goals. He was also awarded FIFA’s Best Goal of the Tournament for the goal against Uruguay in the round of 16 match-when he chested the ball down and then kicked it into the goalie with cannonball-like force. (see below)
There’s no doubt that soccer runs in James Rodriguez’s DNA, both his father and his uncle played professionally in Colombia in the 80s. Though his father did not play a role in his life, James’ mother Pilar Rubio and his step-father Juan Carlos Restrepo helped nourish his talent by enlisting James in a soccer academy when he was 5 years-old in the city of Ibague.
Destined for greatness, James moved to Medellin after he was signed to Antioquia’s Envigado soccer club, and made his professional debut at the age of 14. Two years later, his sharp skills earned him a spot on Colombia’s national Sub-17 team where he represented the South American country in FIFA’s 2007 World Cup U-17 tournament in South Korea.
It wasn’t long until recruiters from Argentina’s Banfield soccer club took notice of his talent and offered him a four-year contract at 17. James didn’t blink twice and with his mom’s blessings he moved to Argentina leaving his family and friends behind, all for the dream to play internationally.
In Banfield James quickly became the object of attention when he ended his first year as a title winner in the Apertura championship where he made history for being the youngest international player to score a goal in Argentina’s First Division.
Hard work and determination paid off for James after just two seasons in Banfield, Portugal’s Porto soccer club offered to buy him at the bargain price of €8.75-million according to the Colombian publication, El Espectador. While playing in the Portuguese league, James helped the team win the Europa League and three Portuguese League titles, he scored a total of 25 goal in three seasons.
In 2013 and after much success in Porto, James and his agent made a strategic move and agreed to a 5 year-deal with one of the top teams in the French league. The AS Monaco paid Porto the sum of €45-million for the the 21 year-old. During the 2013-2014 season he’s been recognized as one of the top players in the Ligue 1.
James has admitted to being extremely competitive and for that reason alone one of his biggest dreams has been to play for the Real Madrid soccer club, winner of 10 consecutive EUEF Champion League trophies.
Last Tuesday that dream became a reality when he was introduced to the world as a Madrista player wearing his signature No. 10 on his Real Madrid jersey.