Colombia’s young James Rodriguez set up the ball. He looked up and knew exactly where he was going to place his corner kick. What was amazing about that play was that the ball ended up in the back of the net, one of the more amazing goals scored by this 12-year-old (see video below). Two years later, this young player would end up becoming a professional.
From his time playing Pony Fútbol with Academia Tolimense as a kid, the Cúcuta native James Rodríguez was always a youngster that constantly showed his class. This one moment below encapsulated one of the most ballyhooed young players to come out of Colombia in the past decade.
So his tremendous goal against Uruguay at Maracanã was not only a crowning moment of his already impressive career; it was confirmation of what many had already seen in his seven-year career as a professional footballer.
Sometimes in life people learn either by their mistakes or the mistakes of others. That was James’ success. His major influencer was seeing to a certain extent the mistakes and virtues of his father’s career as a footballer.
Those experiences helped Rodríguez mature beyond his age, mostly credited to the experiences passed down by his father, Wilson James Rodríguez. His father was also a quality player, who even played on the Colombian national team. Wilson was part of the 1985 U-20 side that also had players the likes of John Jairo Trellez, Eduardo Niño and a young goalkeeper named René Higuita.
Wilson was just as talented as his son, but he saw his career cut short by injuries and a battle with alcoholism. He carried those life lessons over and taught his son what to avoid.
Many saw great things from James, even his eventual wife Daniela Ospina. James met Ospina’s sister while he was at Banfield and her being able to relate to his demands as a player helped provide him a much stronger foundation. Ospina was an aspiring volleyball player when they first met and they quickly established a long distance relationship.
Little did he know, he was talking to the sister of his eventual teammate — national team goalkeeper David Ospina.
By this stage of his life, James made the move from Envigado FC, a club on the outskirts of Medellín, to Argentine side Banfield. There his profile began to grow on the international level. His success there was important.
He was always proud of his roots, so much so that when an Argentine journalist called him James (English pronunciation, of course), the teenager became irate and quickly corrected him. “My father’s name is James (Hah-mess) and that is the name he gave me,” he said in an interview on Argentine television during his first season at Banfield.
After that moment, people in Argentina not only knew how to pronounce his name, but also of what he could do on the pitch. James quickly became a fixture under Julio César Falcioni and led Banfield to their only league title back in 2009. By then he was an instrumental part of El Taladro during that time. This success started to coincide with European interest.