It took young winger James Rodriguez just two years to go from earning his first international cap to becoming a key member of the team that got Colombia back on the world stage after a 16-year absence.

The Colombian fearlessly combines great vision and pace with a powerful shot and excellent link-up play, making him a dangerous attacking midfielder or left winger. He is also a set-piece expert, provides plenty of assists and knows where the back of the net is, as he showed by finishing third-highest scorer for his side with three goals en route to Brazil.

James’s footballing career can only be defined as precocious. His debut in Colombian football came at 14 before he became the youngest foreign debutant and scorer in the Argentinian league at 17. One year later he moved to Europe, where he shone for FC Porto. 

James also impressed at both the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2007 and at the U-20 equivalent four years later, where he was one of the outstanding performers in a team that reached the quarter-finals on home soil. 

The 22-year-old Monaco player is one of the first names on Jose Pekerman’s team sheet, and at Brazil 2014 he is expected to don the No10 shirt worn by a certain Carlos Valderrama at France 1998.