James Rodriguez has had a fantastic year. He set a remarkable World Cup in Brazil alight with six goals in five appearances, which ultimately led to him securing a lucrative £63million move to Real Madrid in the summer.
With Radamel Falcao injured Rodriguez became the new poster boy for Colombia at the tournament and earned himself a Golden Ball nomination - not to mention scoring two of the best goals.
In commemoration of one of the most thrilling series of individual performances ever seen at football's show piece event, I relive his progression through the rounds that made him one of the most sought after players in the world and an instant household name.
Colombia 3-0 Greece
Rodriguez arguably outshone both Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi at the World Cup and announced himself with an electrifying performance in Colombia’s 3-0 win against Greece in the opening game.
The 23-year-old delivered the corner that Teofilo Gutierrez poked home on the hour mark to double Colombia’s lead.
He then fired a warning shot at Orestis Karnezis with a mazy run but his long-range effort was tipped away by the goalkeeper.
Rodriguez rounded off the victory with a goal in his first World Cup appearance, Juan Cuadrado crossed the ball, Rodriguez took a touch before slotting the ball coolly into the bottom corner.
Colombia 2-1 Ivory Coast
Rodriguez continued his fine form into the second group game, it took 64 minutes for Colombia to find the breakthrough when Rodriguez met Cuadrado’s corner at the near post and he powered a fine header beyond Boubacar Barry.
Colombia 4-1 Japan
With qualification guaranteed Jose Pekerman chose to leave Rodriguez on the bench for the first half.
The playmaker had an immediate impact from the second half kick-off, he cut inside from the right taking three Japanese players with him but his shot was deflected wide.
Rodriguez then kept his composure inside Japan’s penalty area, even with four players around him, he managed to put the ball into space for Jackson Martinez to give Colombia the lead.
He then assisted Martinez for his second goal, Colombia were on the counter attack and Rodriguez played a superb through ball that cut out two defenders.
The 23-year-old rounded off this master-class with a goal for himself, his clever footwork took Maya Yoshida out of the equation and he poked the ball past Eiji Kawashima.
First Knockout Round
Colombia 2-0 Uruguay
Rodriguez cemented his place as the star of the World Cup, with Luis Suarez banned only one player was going to stand out.
The game threatened to be a dull affair until 28 minutes in, Rodriguez – with his back to the goal – took a look over his shoulder, cushioned a header on his chest and volleyed the ball in off the underside of the crossbar from 25 yards.
It was arguably the goal of the tournament and earned praise from Phil Neville: “Paul Scholes and Xavi can do that, they have the time to take in their surroundings. That awareness sets the best players apart.”
Five minutes into the second half Rodriguez crowned a superb team move; Pablo Armero whipped a cross in, Cuadrado nodded it into the path of the playmaker who made the finish look simple from eight yards.
His exploits against Uruguay meant that Rodriguez became the first player since Ronaldo and Rivaldo at the 2002 tournament to score in the opening four games of the competition.
Brazil 2-1 Colombia
To the disappointment of many, outside Brazil, Colombia’s winning run came to an end and with it Rodriguez’ majestic performances.
Brazil took advantage of lenient refereeing, clattering the playmaker on several occasions.
To his credit though, Rodriguez remained defiant and his through ball led to a penalty, which the star converted, for his sixth goal of the tournament.
That spot kick was enough for Rodriguez to put his name in history, becoming the first Colombian to pick up the golden boot award.
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