James Rodríguez, the eternal misunderstood | Soccer | Sports


James Rodríguez wanted to become a vintage player. Or so it seemed. He was (is) that kind of footballer who aimed for the roof of the homeless. And he landed in the best place in the world to rewrite history: Real Madrid. In fact, he even won two Champions Leagues thanks to Zinedine Zidane. In his first final, that of 2015-2016, he stayed on the bench; In the second, that of the 2016-2017 campaign, he did not even make the call. “It’s frustrating not to play. I know that I have the conditions to always play. But for other people I can’t do it, so it’s frustrating. If I were a bad player I would accept it, but I am a person who wants to win and always play,” the Colombian attacked his then coach. It turned out, in any case, that Zidane is not alone. He is one of the long list of coaches who faced James Rodríguez, as talented on the field as he was difficult to manage in the locker room.

Today, again, James is looking for a pamper in Colombia. “James is training normally. He only played a few minutes, but he performed well when it was his turn to come on,” said Néstor Lorenzo, coach of the tricolor. After the historic generation of Valderrama, Asprilla, Freddy Rincón, Higuita and company qualified the tricolor for three consecutive World Cups (1990, 1994 and 1998), the South American team disappeared from the biggest soccer event. Until Néstor Pékerman took command of Colombia and James Rodríguez became his protégé. The result? The best classification in the history of Colombia in a World Cup: quarterfinals in Brazil 2014, and then remaining in the round of 16 in Russia 2018. It was precisely in Brazil, when James’ name was put on the window: it ended the World Cup scorer with six goals, enough resume to sign for Madrid.

Carlo Ancelotti, then on the Bernabéu bench, understood James’ complex character perfectly. Like the veteran and paternalistic Pékerman in Colombia, the Italian coach brought out the best performance from Rodríguez with the white shirt: 17 goals and 18 assists in 46 games. But Zidane replaced Ancelotti and the striker’s football took a nosedive. He threatened to rise at Bayern Munich, also under the custody of an understanding guy like Jupp Heynckes. But nothing. The same thing happened to him when Everton caught him in the 2021-2022 season. James explained why Rafa Benítez took him out of the Premier: “On the first day of the preseason the coach told me: ‘Look, you’re older now, you’re 30 years old, I prefer to have young people, people with a lot of strength, with a lot of strength. energy, let it run, so find a club.”

With no place in elite football, James left for Al-Rayyan. Qatar: money before football. A two-year experience, which ended with the Colombian at Olympiacos in Greece. And the story of (almost) always. “You are James Rodríguez. You have to set an example with your image on the field, but also with your behavior. “I want you to apologize to your teammates,” coach José Anigo said, after the Colombian responded in a bad way after being replaced at half-time of the match that Olympiacos lost to Panathinaikos.

James was left without a team. Again, no one wanted him. He was 32 years old and had little business for so much talent. São Paulo attempted what Bayern, Everton, Rayyan and Olympiacos had previously sought. All without success. Since he left Madrid there is no way for James’ football to flourish. In Colombia, in any case, they do not lose hope, much less Néstor Lorenzo, Pékerman’s collaborator at the World Cup in Brazil. “He is a leader, a talented player, who has played very good games in the playoffs. Our intention is for the team to take advantage of all his talent,” concluded the Colombian coach. The wayward James seeks peace dressed in tricolor. And he will do it no less than against Spain.

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