James Rodriguez has come a long way from battling relegation in Colombia to winning the Golden Boot at the 2014 World Cup and becoming Real Madrid’s latest Galactico
- James Rodriguez has signed for Real Madrid for a fee in excess of £60m
- The Colombia forward won the Golden Boot at the 2014 World Cup
- But he began career fighting relegation with Envigado in Colombia aged 14
- Then had successful spells with Banfield, Porto and Monaco before Real
- Rodriguez could line up alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale
James Rodriguez was only 14 years old when he was thrown into a relegation battle in Colombia’s Liga Postobon with his first club Envigado.
Unable to keep them up after a 15-year run in the top flight the club that had taken a gamble on the slight-of-frame midfielder found themselves in the second division.
The teenager was not about to let them down though. Rodriguez led the team that got the Medellin-based side back into the top division the following season scoring nine goals in 22 games and making South America sit up and take notice of what was clearly going to be the next big thing.
Argentine side Banfield took the most notice and signed the youngster putting him on a high-protein diet and weights regime to toughen him up for the rigours of league football in Argentina.
He made a slow start under Jorge Burruchaga but when the World Cup hero from Argentina’s 1986 success in Mexico lost his job after a string of bad results Julio Cesar Falcioni came in and decided to build his team around Rodriguez. In the 2009-10 season he scored nine goals in 38 games as Banfield won the league.
That was enough to earn him a move to Europe and with Jorge Mendes guiding him he landed at Porto for 7.5m euros, despite interest from Espanyol and Udinese.
He played in the Andre Villas-Boas team that won the Europa League in his first season in 2011 and he won three leagues in three seasons at Porto playing his way into Jose Pekerman’s Colombia team making his debut in 2011.
The success in Portugal persuaded Monaco to pay 45m euros for Rodriguez in 2013 and in his first, and last season, he scored 10 goals in 38 games.
In an exclusive interview with MailSport before the World Cup his Colombia team-mate Radamel Falcao picked him out to be a star of the tournament. That seemed like pals, compatriots and club team-mates looking out for one another at the time, but events in Brazil proved otherwise as Rodriguez became player of the tournament in all but name.
His stunning World Cup, scoring six times in five games to win the Golden Boot – including the goal of the tournament against Uruguay – was all the encouragement Real Madrid needed to celebrate winning their tenth Champions League by making him their big signing.
President Florentino Perez was always going to wait to see which new star emerged in Brazil before signing this season’s ‘Galactico’ and Rodriguez became that player with a string of sensational displays, some post-knockout emotional interviews, and no shortage of charm.
To say he made the right noises after the World Cup would be an understatement. The tears were barely dry after Colombia’s exit against Brazil when he declared: ‘I prefer Madrid to Barcelona’.
He then told Marca: ‘I would go to Madrid with my eyes closed. It would be a dream to play for them. The first time I went to the Bernabeu I said to myself: “I want to play here one day”.’
The wheels were well and truly in motion and with Mendes, the agent he shares with his new team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo, at the heart of negotiations the move went through with little or no resistance from Monaco’s Russian president Dmitry Rybolovlev.
After seeing the BBC forward line of Bale, Benzema and Cristiano shoot their way to Champions League glory aided and abetted by Luka Modric and Angel Di Maria last season all that remains now is for Carlo Ancelotti to find a way of fitting in all his superstars.
James is happiest in a 4-2-3-1 playing as the No 10. He could line up between Ronaldo and Gareth Bale in a formidable second line of attack behind Karim Benzema and in front of midfield pairing Toni Kroos and Luka Modric.
That will be the preference of President Perez. All Ancelotti and the club’s director general Jose Angel Sanchez will have to do then is find a home for, or a way of keeping happy, Xabi Alonso, Sami Khedira, Isco, Di Maria and Jese… just another summer at Real Madrid.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2701440/James-Rodriguez-come-long-way-battling-relegation-Colombia-Galactico.html#ixzz38GbiFmJ1
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