Valderrama: To be the best, you have to love football

  • El Pibeexpects Ronaldo and Messi will once again be in the mix

  • “To be the best, you have to read the game well and, above all, love football”

  • Among his fellow Colombians, he says James “has the quality to be a future contender”

The man known as El Pibe (The Kid) became a household name in Colombian and South American football in the 80s and 90s thanks to his effortless creative play. In conversation, he is equally fluent, showing the same precision with his words that he did with his passing and assists back in his heyday.

“What does it take to become the best in the world? Quality, and the ability to read and play the game exceptionally well,” Valderrama told “Above all, though, to become the best you really need to love football. If you have all that, then you have the potential to become The Best,” he added.

Now 55 and an active member of the FIFA Legends team, El Pibe was happy to reveal some of the candidates he thinks will be battling for the men’s award in London come 23 October. “Apart from Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, who’ve deservedly been competing for the award for the past decade, there’s someone else capable of challenging for it,” he told us.

And who is that? “Neymar, of course. He has everything. He’s got the game and plays so well… he could be right up there. As for Colombians, the most skilled is James (Rodriguez). He has the quality to be a future contender.”

Did you know?

  • Valderrama competed at three FIFA World Cups™: Italy 1990, USA 1994 and France 1998

  • He played 111 times for Colombia and scored 11 goals

  • He remains his country’s most capped player

The Best FIFA Men’s Player Award 2017 will be decided by the users of, selected media representatives, and the captains and head coaches of all FIFA affiliated national teams.