Everton finally announced the signing of James Rodriguez on Monday evening, after the Colombian superstar was pictured walking around Liverpool since the middle of last week!
Some supporters could have been forgiven for wondering whether the former Real Madrid and Bayern Munich playmaker was just a big Beatles fan and enjoying life in the city as a tourist, given the number of times he was pictured at various hotels and restaurants before his official unveiling. Fear not, he is here for the football and not for the Fab Four. And now that it’s all done, it feels like a massive coup for the Toffees, as they strive to push themselves back into the elite of English football. It’s been four years since owner Farhad Moshiri arrived at Goodison Park to bankroll a blue revolution, but thus far it hasn’t gone to plan with a series of disappointing finishes and not a cup run in sight.
However, in James - that’s pronounced Ham-ez by the way, let’s not have a repeat of Terry Henry shall we - they have landed a bona fide superstar. We know you’re aware of how he burst onto the radar of the entire globe for Colombia with THAT goal at the 2014 World Cup, but what else do you know about him? Here are some interesting and rather obscure facts about Everton’s new boy…
The Name’s Rodriguez, James Rodriguez…
Though pronounced Ham-ez, the 29-year-old is named after James Bond.
A smart dresser like 007 himself, Rodriguez takes after his namesake with his suave and sophisticated style and his ability to shoot and kill (the opposition).
He was affectionately known as the ‘James Bond of Banfield’, his first club in Argentina, before he joined Porto and later Monaco.
Amusingly, during the height of his World Cup heroics six years ago (more on that later) the Times of India publication caught the attention of social media with their headline ‘The name is Bond, James Rodriguez’. No trouble here.
He Is More Popular Than Liverpool and Arsenal Put Together (Sort Of)
A powerhouse on social media, he has a whopping 46million followers on Instagram; that’s nearly 20million more than his new rivals Liverpool Football Club! And yeah, that’s also a greater number of Instagram fans than Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea, Tottenham… he even has six million more followers than the official Premier League account. Crazy.
Star names like Tiger Woods, Lewis Hamilton, even the main man Zlatan Ibrahimovic, they too all trail behind James’ numbers on Insta. In terms of current footballers, only Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have more subscribers to their pictures.
If you head to Rodriguez’s page you’ll find he posts regularly, with loads of cool snaps of him beaming with his young family, enjoying his many football achievements and, of course, showing off his abs because, well, why not? If you’ve got it, flaunt it!
A Young James Hero-Worshipped An Anime Character
Growing up in Colombia, you may expect his hero was someone like Carlos Valderrama but James’ main source of inspiration was Tsubasa Ozora, a character from Japanese cartoon ‘Captain Tsubasa’ which is all about a young boy who dreamed of winning the World Cup for Japan. Also known as ‘Oliver Atom’, it was James’ favourite show according to his stepfather.
His uncle Mario remembered how he wanted to be a football star, "I want to be like Tsubasa Ozora (Oliver Atom)," he would say. James certainly got his wish!
He Overcame A Childhood Stutter
James was noted as being very shy as a youngster, as he suffered from a heavy stutter during his childhood and still has it today. However, during his time with Banfield, who he joined in 2008, reading books out loud helped him with his speech impediment, and he can now bravely speak to the media.
Ecuadorian daily Expreso once reported, “He has the talent to easily control the ball, but few people know the speech problem that this star for AS Monaco had in his childhood. Rodriguez was victorious in overcoming his stutter – which on various occasions has created difficulty when giving interviews, even as a professional soccer star.”
What an inspiration for people who have grown up in a similar situation.
Teenage Sensation Who Made His Debut At 14
Beginning his career with Envigado in his homeland, he became the second youngest Colombian to make his professional debut at the age of just 14 years and five months. In 2007, he helped the club to promotion going onto score nine goals in 22 matches, while just 15 years of age!
His new club Everton are no stranger to youngsters making the grade after seeing Wayne Rooney burst onto the scene at 16, while James Vaughan is the Premier League’s youngest ever goalscorer after finding the net for the Toffees at the same age in a 4-1 win over Crystal Palace in 2005.
From Soda To Shampoo, He Is A Marketing Dream
As of last year, James has enjoyed endorsement deals with adidas, Pepsi, Hugo Boss as well as the Colombian beverage Pony Malta and Nestle drink Milo. He even partnered up with shampoo brand Clear and, according to the18.com, rakes in £3million per year from such deals.
In his home country, he even has his own mineral water called 10 Gold, after his shirt number, with profits donated to his personal charity foundation helping underprivileged kids in Colombia.
More Than Just A Footballing Brain
He is one of the most intelligent players on a football field but he’s also an academic off it, too. During his time with Porto, he studied computer engineering at Nacional Abierta University in Venezuela, a university dedicated to long distance education, meaning he was able to play for the Portuguese giants while learning.
The degree saw him follow in the footsteps of his stepfather Juan Carlos Restrepo who himself is an engineer.
Owner Of A Golden Boot
James had a stunning World Cup six years ago which catapulted him into the football stratosphere and earned him a mega move to Real Madrid.
The Spanish giants paid up to £71m for the left-footed playmaker after he scored six goals in five games for Colombia as he helped his nation reach the quarter-finals before they were eliminated by hosts Brazil.
James stole the show with a stunning strike against Uruguay, taking the ball down on his chest before turning and smashing home an unstoppable strike into the top corner. The incredible hit won him the FIFA Puskas Award for the best goal of the year. Not a bad summer.
He also went viral as he scored a penalty with a giant bug on his arm... that creepy crawly was gigantic but we still think his goal was more impressive.
Third Time Lucky For Everton Fans?
James reunites with Carlo Ancelotti on Merseyside having worked with the three-time Champions League winner at Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. A chance to work with the Italian again was a key decision to make the switch. Both won the Champions League at the Bernabeu and the Bundesliga title together in Bavaria but will it be third time lucky at Everton, could the star duo finally end the Blues’ 25-year wait for a trophy?
Speaking to Rio Ferdinand on ‘The Locker Room’, Rodriguez said of Ancelotti, “I worked with a remarkable top manager, he’s wise, he knows a lot, he knows how to manage teams, so I really trusted him.”
There is big respect between the two and Rodriguez scored 17 goals and recorded 17 assists in their maiden season together. Evertonians will rightly be excited at the prospect of such a tally.
One Half Of A Famous Sporting Couple
James was married to volleyball player Daniela Ospina in 2011 before the couple split in 2017. The pair have a daughter together named Salome. And yes, you’re right to recognise the surname, Daniela is the sister of Rodriguez’s Colombia team-mate, and former Arsenal goalkeeper David Ospina.