top of page

James Rodríguez: Colombia’s captain delivers at Copa America

James Rodriguez

Nathan Joyes

It has been a decade since Rodríguez won the Golden Boot at the 2014 World Cup despite Brazil knocking Colombia out in the quarter-finals. Many have forgotten he scored six goals in that tournament, largely due to his mesmorising volley against Uruguay which has been played on loop ever since.

Those performances in Brazil earned the Colombian a summer move to Real Madrid, and although his career in recent years has seen him feature in the Qatar Stars League and Greek Super League, his performance against Paraguay highlighted just how important he is to the national side.

After a season with Olympiacos, Rodríguez moved to Sao Paulo in the same window as Lucas Moura. However, while Moura excelled and guided his boyhood club to their first Copa do Brasil title, once again the 2014 World Cup star failed to fit into Dorival Junior’s system.

Two new coaches have been appointed since Junior chose to take Brazil’s national job, but Rodriguez has still only played a handful of minutes at his new club.

Captain Colombia

His immediate exit looks inevitable once Copa America comes to a close next month, which has been a constant theme since his loan to Everton back in 2021. Boca Juniors have shown an interest, but Rodriguez has expressed his sole focus remains on Copa America.

And why not? Colombia are currently enjoying a 24-match unbeaten run after their 2-1 victory against Paraguay in their opening Copa America fixture. With Brazil stalling against Costa Rica, first spot is up for grabs in Group D.

Head coach Néstor Lorenzo wants his team to play with intensity, adopt a high-pressing approach, and be on the front foot - which has no doubt brought the best out of Colombia. 

A few, however, had doubts about James Rodríguez's lack of pace slowing them down and with next to no minutes at club level heading into the tournament, there was a cause for concern.

Yet it took the captain just 42 minutes to silence any critics.

Player of the match: James Rodríguez

Rodriguez rolled back the years, delivering two assists for Crystal Palace’s Daniel Munoz from open play before a well-placed free kick saw Jefferson Lerma head home.

There was no fitness concern, either. Anticipating and retrieving balls back inside Paraguay’s half before switching the play effortlessly rolled back the years in front of 67,000 fans - largely made up of Colombian supporters.

Rodríguez benefitted from both Lerma and Richard Rios providing intelligent movement, in particular in the first half, that allowed the former Real Madrid player to pick out his teammates in advanced positions.

Colombia’s captain retrieved the ball on five occasions, completed 88% of his passes, had the most touches compared to all midfielders and of course, delivered two outstanding assists. 

There was clearly only one winner for the Player of the Match award, where Lorenzo allowed his star player to receive his deserved standing ovation when substituted in the 91st minute.

Surprisingly Rodriguez is still only 32, who will celebrate turning 33 two days before the Copa America final. If he continues to deliver performances like he did against Paraguay, no doubt he’ll have eyes firmly on a belated birthday gift.

Ten years ago the World Cup provided Rodríguez with a platform that saw Real Madrid take note and sign him. In 2024, this renewal of Copa America might just be the opportunity he’s craved to seal one last move, with the 2026 World Cup in his sights.

Copa America Podcast with Tim Vickery

Check out our latest Copa America podcast alongside South American expert Tim Vickery on Apple, Spotify or YouTube.


bottom of page