In a World Cup where the likes of Lionel Messi and Neymar have been talked about nonstop, another, unlikely hero of the game has taken over.
James Rodriguez – it’s said “HAHM-ez” not ‘jeymez” – has captured the world’s attention with a brilliant performance with Colombia during the group stage and an even nearly-perfect performance against Uruguay.
His two-goal performance with Los Cafeteros included arguably the goal of the tournament when he controlled a high header on his chest and hit a magnificent volley on the turn that crashed on the underside of the crossbar and into goal.
With this performance, the 22-year-old Monaco player became the tournament’s leading scorer, surpassing the likes of Messi and Neymar with five goals.
But who is James Rodriguez?
He was born in Cúcuta, Colombian in 1991 to Wilson James Rodriguez Bedolla and Maria Del Pilar Rubio.
Rodriguez began his career with the Academia Tolimense before getting his big break after a performance at the Pony Futbol championships in 2004. He joined Envigado soon after.
Four years later, the Banfield soccer club in Argentina snatched him up, where he went on to be labelled the “James Bond of Banfield.” Following a successful stint in Argentinian league, Rodriguez transferred to for the Portuguese side Porto for a $5.1 million EURO four-year contract.
He settled in almost immediately netting 14 goals with 11 assist in 2011/12 to wing breakthrough player of the year aged just 20.
In May 2013, Rodriguez became the second most expensive player in Portuguese league history when the French side team AS Monaco signed a fee believed to be worth $45 million Euros.
At Monaco, alongside injured Colombian superstar Radamel Falcao, Rodriguez was quick to settle in and showed why he was worth the multi-million Euro fee, scoring 10 goals with 12 assists in his debut season.
With the momentum, Rodriguez worked his way into the hearts of soccer fans around the world and taken the spotlight out from under Messi and Neymar’s feet.
“They do things because they have certain gifts that make them special,” Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez told reporters after Saturday’s game. “I believe from what I’ve seen he’s the best player in the World Cup. I’m not exaggerating. … Hopefully he will continue to move on because he’s very young and football needs players with these characteristics.”