James David Rodríguez Rubio, famous by just his first name James, is often regarded as one of the best footballers of his generation. He is praised for his pace, technique and his style of play led to comparisons with more illustrious Colombian Carlos Valderrama. Here are some facts about the Colombian professional footballer:
James is married to Daniela Ospina, a volleyball player in 2011 at the age of 19 years and they have a daughter named Salome. It is believed thecouples are in process of divorcing.
After the 2014 World Cup, taking advantage of his popularity and increased exposure, Adidas issued him his own customized gold boots to celebrate his achievement and increase brand value.
He is one of the top ten players with highest endorsement earning with $4.8 million. He has sponsorship deal with Colombian beverage ‘Pony Malta,’ Nestle drink, ‘Milo’ and shampoo brand ‘Clear’ apart from Adidas.
He has started his own energy drink, called ’10 Gold’ in support of his charity foundation that he started for underprivileged kids in his native country.
As a child, James suffered from communication disorder due to heavy stammering and a speech therapist was hired to help him get over his problem. Shyness and speech impediment issue still persists till this day and often struggles in interviews.
He was born James David Rodriguez Rubio on July 12, 1991, in Cucuta, Colombia, to Maria Del Pilar Rubio and Wilson James Rodriguez Bedoya. His father a quality football player, who played for the Colombian national team, was a great influence on his career.
Though his parents named him after James Bond, his name is pronounced as ‘Hahm-es Rod-ri-guess’ in a Colombian cum Spanish accent or ‘Hahm-ess’ for short.
James never wanted to be a footballer, but he was a footballer from the day he was born as a product of his parents’ efforts. He had private football tutors, on top of the ones from his club. He was abandoned by his father at the age of three and was raised by his mother and step-father, Juan Carlos Restrepo.
He is the only child of his parents who inherited his passion from his father and started the sport at an early age of two years. He used to play Pony Futbol with Academia Tolimense and became a very skilled player.
In January 2004, at the age of 13, in the Pony Futbol tournament in Medellin he scored a hat-trick on the way to finals where he scored direct from a corner. He was named Most Valuable Player of the tournament with nine goals.
Despite his football career he didn’t neglect his education and has graduated in Engineering from Universidad Nacional Abiertahttp from afar.
He is the product of Envigado’s youth system. He is the second youngest Colombian player to make his professional debut at the age of 14 years and five months on May 21, 2006, playing in the second division before graduating to first division in 2007.
In 2008 he moved over to Atletico Banfiled Club, Argentine and made his first team debut on February 07, 2009. He is the youngest foreign player at 17 years ever to score in the Argentine Primera Division, when scored from a long ranger on February 27 in a 3-1 win over Rosario Central.
He made his debut at the Copa Libertadores and scored his first goal in 2-1 victory over Monarcas Morelia and went on to tally five goals in seven matches before Banfield were eliminated in the Round of 16. He was ignominiously red carded for two fouls in the second leg.
Though Italian club Udinese showed interest in December 2009, James was signed-up by FC Porto on July 06, 2010, for €5.1 million, with 30% economic rights retained by other parties.
The 2011-12, season was most rewarding with 14 goals and 11 assists to be named LPFP Award for Breakthrough Player of the Primeira Liga season. He is the first Colombian player at 20 yearsto be awarded.
He was adjudged the best player in the Primeira Liga for the year and was awarded ‘Portuguese Golden Ball’ in 2012. He is the second Colombian and the youngest ever to be honored.
He was suffering with hamstring injury which made him struggle to maintain fitness since December. He once again relapsed in the match against Nacional de Madeira on January 05, 2013, which forced him to be out of action for about a month.
In the final season with FC Porto, he scored ten goals with 13 assists in 24 league matches. He forced a penalty in the final match of the league against Pacos de Ferreira, which resulted in a goal and the title for Porto. It was his eighth title with the club in three years at just 21 years.
When he signed a five years transfer with AS Monaco, worth € 45 million on May 25, 2013, he became as one of the highest paid footballer in world history then. It was also the second most expensive transfer in Portuguese football.
After helping Monaco qualify for the Champions League, he confirmed on July 22, 2014, of his intension of moving over to Real Madrid. He signed a six year contract for approximately €80 million that made him fourth-most expensive player in the history.
James was greeted by a strong 45,000 supporters during his presentation and the Colombian ambassador made a speech apart from carrying a message from Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos. He was given the number 10 jersey and was hailed as a ‘Galactico.’
He made his debut on August 12, 2014, in the UEFA Super Cup, against Sevilla and scored his first goal on August 19, in Spanish Super Cup, against Atletico Madrid. However he sustained injury to his right foot after being fouled and was out of action for about two months.
On July 11, 2017, it was officially announced of his move to FC Bayern Munich on a two-year long deal. He made his debut in the Budesliga when he scored the opened goal in the 3-0 win over FC Schalke 04, on September 19, 2017.
James donned the national jersey for the first time when he represented Colombia Under-17 team in the 2007 South American Championships and 2007 FIFA U-17 World Cup.
He progressed to national under-20 squad in 2011 and was part of three youth tournaments, the Toulon Tournament, South American U-20 Championship and was the captain the Under-20 World Cup team. Colombia won the Toulon Tournament defeating France in the final.
He made his senior team transition during the 2014 World Cup qualification match against Bolivia on October 11, 2011 and scored his first international goal on June 03, 2012, in a 1-0 win against Peru.
At the 2014 World Cup, he was voted three times as ‘Man of the Match’ in four matches before bowing of the tournament in the quarterfinal against Brazil. His volleyed opening goal in a 2-0 win against Uruguay was voted as the best goal in the tournament by four million voters.
He was awarded the Golden Boot as the top goals scorer despite being eliminated in quarterfinals and the FIFA Puskas Award for the best goal of the year. He was also was short-listed for the FIFA’s Golden Ball.
Since his professional debut in 2006, he has scored 98 goals in 352 appearances and 21 goals in 59 matches for the national side. He was ranked as third best play maker behind Toni Kroos and Lionel Messi.