"James Rodriguez' dream was always to play for Barcelona"
When current Real Madrid player James Rodríguez made his professional debut for Colombian side Envigado FC at just 14 years of age, no-one was seriously considering the super-stardom that lay in wait. However it appears the player himself had some interesting dreams as to where his football might or could take him.
Dream contract with Real Madrid
By the time he was 15 the current Madrid no.10 had cemented a first team spot at Envigado and soon after he was off to Argentina and on his way to the heights of the professional game, scoring a wonder goal against Uruguay and signing a dream contract with Real Madrid, moving from Monaco.
James' legacy at Envigado
Ramiro Ruiz, president of Envigado Football Club where James made his professional debut spoke about what it means to have James playing at Real:
"It's a real source of pride for us to have James playing at the best club in the world, we feel blessed".
Omar Alberto Suárez, technical director at Envigado, echoed the president's sentiments; "James is an inspiration for everyone here, he came into the academy and taught us, he left us a lesson, he's still teaching us now, it's a source of inspiration too for all our players"
James gave a little glimpse of his determination and professionalism in an interview in 2007: “I’ve always said that the footballer needs to be abnormal. While normal people go out and stay up late, the player must eat well, go to bed early and take a nap after lunch, but I never thought it was a sacrifice.”
First season joy
James Rodríguez arrived at Madrid with the euphoria of a stunning World Cup behind him, bringing that momentum from Brazil with him as he replaced Ángel Di Maria and surpassed the Argentine in his first season, no-one expected him to fit in so quickly or to shine so brightly in his debut year.
Carrying the cross
2015/16 has been more crucifixion than celebration for James: injuries, rumours of personal problems, a falling out with Rafa Benitez then just not fitting in with Zidane's plans - the rise of Casemiro as the fulcrum of Zidane's side has come at the expense of the Colombian - it's been a rough ride for the undoubtedly talented Colombian captain.
James in Zidane's plans
Zizou has come to James' defence at every opportunity, and the club has already branded James 'untransferable' and hung the 'Not For Sale' sign in big bright red lettering in the shop window, despite plenty of interest from Europe's leading lights.
The player has, however, seen himself relegated to being a second-tier first-team player as the season has worn on, along with Isco Alorcon, players who are good enough to win less challenging Liga matches, but who are not called upon on the big European nights where reputations are forged and legends made.
In the end, it will come down to the player himself: Does James want to stay at Real Madrid? Would he prefer to play at a smaller club with less competition?
James' motivation... and dreams of Barcelona
Juan Carlos Grisales, physical coach at Envigado FC spoke about the no.10's drive, desire and appetite for hard work: "We feel really proud of James, he's an example for any young player, he always said that if you want go far, you have to work hard".
Omar Suárez highlighted James' competitive spirit and hunger for success; "he came in at under-13 level, he was quality on the left, you could see that, but what stood out most was the way he always wanted to win, he's a competitor", Suárez also highlighted that no-one e imagined that Rodríguez the kid would ever reach the heights he has when they watched him at under-age level:
"No-one thought he'd make it this far, anyone who tells you they did is lying"
Suárez also revealed James' dream when he was still in the youth side: "I called him and said there was some clubs interested in the Arab Emirates or Argentina and he said no, coach, I want to play for Barcelona. Not Real Madrid, Barcelona".
In Medellín they have full faith in James returning to his best and fulfilling the potential he has to one day stand on the Balòn d'Òr podium, winning the top titles that the sport has to offer.
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