James Rodríguez’s impressive drive as a youth player resulted in two-a-day sessions and workouts after every player had left the field.
The 2014 World Cup was full of surprises and unexpected calls to fame, but none were better than the emergence of James Rodríguez.
The son of a Colombian national team player, Rodríguez found his love for soccer at the age of five when his stepfather enrolled the youngster in the local academy of Tolima.
Though Rodríguez was an introverted child who often shied away from socialization due to his stutter, his zest for soccer was unmistakable from the very beginning.
According to Rodríguez's mother, Maria de Pilar Rubio: “James never wanted to be a footballer, but he was a footballer from the day he was born.”
Rodríguez’s impressive drive as a youth player resulted in two-a-day sessions and workouts after every player had left the field. His family’s middle-class standing allowed him to have private soccer tutors and trainers who helped him to hone his skills, tactics and strength, all of which translated to results on the soccer field.
Because of the young Rodríquez’s dedication, Columbia’s once-in-a-generation player had his big break at the 2004 Pony Futbol Championship. In the tournament, which has featured many of Columbia’s top players over the years, Rodríquez scored an improbable goal off of a corner kick – a rare feat in the game of soccer. Rodríquez subsequently won the top player of the tournament award.
The accolades were nice but, more importantly, in the crowd during the tournament was Gustavo Adolfo Upegui Lopez. Lopez was a Columbian businessman, soccer enthusiast and an individual theorized to be connected to Pablo Escobar and the Columbian cartel. Lopez, convinced Rodríquez to sign with the Medellìn-based club of Envigado.
After ascending through Envigado’s stellar youth academy to the parent club, Rodríguez was then moved on to the Argentinian club of Banfield before transferring to the world powers of Real Madrid and, more recently, Bayern Munich.
Rodríguez is back on the big stage with Colombia after a memorable 2014 World Cup, a tournament where he averaged a goal every 67 minutes. The Colombian scored six times across his 400 minutes and in the process scored half of the team’s goals at the tournament.
It was largely due to the talented midfielder’s influence that Colombia went on to make history in Brazil 2014, marking its best-ever run at the World Cup after reaching the quarterfinals, where it lost against Brazil.
To say that Rod is a threat would be an understatement, and yet he’s back and better than ever. After not finding his place in Real Madrid, Rodríguez has become the missing piece and a point of reference for his new club Bayern Munich.
The Colombian racked up a whopping seven goals and 11 assists in only 19 Bundesliga appearances this season, numbers that would make any Colombian fan dream of a World Cup campaign similar to the last.
The bar is set high for the 2014 World Cup Adidas Golden Boot and Goal of the Tournament winner.