James Rodriguez always puts his head to good use on the field of play, no matter whether he is picking out team-mates for one of his pinpoint passes or shooting with his fearsome left foot.
Against Côte d’Ivoire on Thursday, however, the Cafetero playmaker used his head for an altogether different purpose, powering home the ball with it to put his side in the lead, following up shortly afterwards with a helping hand as Juan Quintero scored what turned out to be Colombia’s winner. Rodriguez could hardly have picked a better time to showcase his heading abilities and he celebrated by leading his team in a joyous dance routine.
Chatting to FIFA.com afterwards, he spoke about his little-known prowess in the air: “I’ve scored a few headers before, though not many to be honest, maybe three or four in my whole career. But this one was the most important of the lot and it’s made me happier than any other.”
No way! Was that Drogba who was marking me? That makes me even happier.
What made his header all the more impressive was the fact that the men he beat in the air were Didier Zokora and Didier Drogba, who had dropped back to lend a helping hand in defence.
“No way! Was that Drogba who was marking me?”, said a surprised Rodriguez on learning who his marker was. “That makes me even happier (laughs). I’m just happy to score and help my team get the win.”
Willing to do anything to help the Colombian cause, the prolific midfielder also put in the tackle that started the move for his side’s second goal.
“I just want to help out,” he said, “and if I have to make a tackle, then I’ll make one. I want to score, I want to set up goals, and I want to win the ball. I’ll do anything for this team.”
Voted the Budweiser Man of the Match for the second game running and also a scorer in his side’s Group C opener against Greece, the Monaco player could hardly have made a better start to Brazil 2014.
Now all but through to the Round of 16 after winning back-to-back World Cup matches for the first time ever, Colombia have been delighting the fans with their sparkling play. Just like Rodriguez, the supporters are also doing everything they can for Los Cafeteros, virtually filling the Estadio Mane Garrincha in Brasilia by themselves, just as they had done at the Estadio Mineirao in Belo Horizonte a few days earlier.
“It’s incredible,” said the No10. “Getting this kind of support gives us a real lift during matches. I know we’re playing in Brazil but it feels like we’re at home. With fans like these, we can go far.”
How far, no one quite knows, though one thing is for sure: even without the injured Radamel Falcao, Colombia are on a roll and using their heads to great effect. Just ask James Rodriguez.