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FOUR OF A KIND

Remembering James Rodriguez’s perfect first season in European football

The Colombian signed for Porto in 2010 and finished the season with four trophies and an award for the best player at the prestigious Toulon Tournament

Some players are so good they write their own headlines.

Take James Rodriguez, for example, whose displays for Colombia at the 2014 World Cup inspired the Times of India to write ‘The name is Bond, James Rodriguez’.

Sheer, unadulterated genius

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Sheer, unadulterated genius

We can’t top that, so we’re not even going to try. But what we can do is look back at Rodriguez’s first season in European football.

Why? Because it was absolutely shenshational (Sean Connery voice).

Props to Rodriguez for trying to bring back the David Beckham mohawk

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Props to Rodriguez for trying to bring back the David Beckham mohawk

The Golden Boy

Rodriguez arrived at Porto on a wave of hype following two seasons with Colombian side Envigado and two at Argentinian side Banfield.

He helped Banfield to a first league title while still a teenager and became the youngest foreigner to score in Argentina as a 17-year-old.

All of which convinced Porto to sign the ‘James Bond of Banfield’ for a bargain £4.5million at the start of the 2010/11 season.

Why have one sponsor when you can have 15?

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Why have one sponsor when you can have 15?

A month and a day before glory

It took Rodriguez just a month and a day after signing to taste success in a Porto shirt for the first time.

Porto beat a Benfica side containing David Luiz, Pablo Aimar and Javier Saviola in the curtain opener Supertaca Candido de Oliveira, thanks to goals from Rolando and Radamel Falcao.

Rodriguez didn’t appear though, with Andre Villas-Boas selecting Silvestre Varela on the left wing. Still, they all count.

Vintage Falcao

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Vintage Falcao

Invincibles

Rodriguez followed the likes of Jeremie Aliadiere and Pascal Cygan into the record books after Porto recorded an Invincible league season.

For the statisticians among you Porto won 27 of their 30 games, scoring 64 goals and conceding just 13 times.

Rodriguez played 15 times, scoring twice, as Villas-Boas gave him a gradual introduction to the Portuguese game.

Hands up if you want to play for Man United in the future?

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Hands up if you want to play for Man United in the future?

The long route to European glory

Porto’s Europa League campaign started in the play-off round, where they had to see off a Genk side spearheaded by Kevin De Bruyne and with Thibaut Courtois in goal.

Next was an unbeaten navigation of Group L, containing Besiktas, Rapid Wien and CSKA Sofia, before an away goal victory against Europa League kings Sevilla in the round of 32.

Russian’s CSKA and Spartak Moscow were next to be seen off, as were Villarreal in the semi-final, leading to an all-Portuguese final against Braga.

Rodriguez came off the bench in the 79th minute, by which point Falcao had already scored the winner, securing Porto a third piece of silverware of the season.

Is it always this easy?

Which camera are we meant to look at?

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Which camera are we meant to look at?

Taking centre stage

Rodriguez had played a fairly limited role in the league campaign, while contributing four starts in the Europa League, but the Taca de Portugal, consisting of 172 clubs from all four tiers of Portuguese football, was where the Colombian shone.

Villas-boas started with Rodriquez in the final, against Vitoria de Guimares, and was rewarded when he scored Porto’s opener in the second minute.

A mental three minutes in which three goals were scored saw the game tied at 2-2, before Rolando, Hulk and a second from Rodriguez gave Porto a 5-2 lead after 45 minutes.

Rodriguez completed his hat-trick with 17 minutes to play. In eight days he’d lifted three pieces of silverware.

Three goals, three titles, eight days. Easy

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Three goals, three titles, eight days. Easy

Icing on the cake

Rodriguez was included in Colombia’s squad for the prestigious Toulon Tournament in France where he’d compete alongside the good and great of youth football, including Manolo Gabbiadini, Kalidou Koulibaly, Florentin Pogba and Anthony Knockaert.

He was crowned the tournament’s best player after guiding Colombia to victory in the final, against hosts France.

When the game went to penalties Rodriguez, captaining his country, stepped up first and slotted home, unlike Damien Le Tallec, Pogba and Fabien Jersale, who all missed for France.

While Rodriguez has gone on to pick up more than 50 senior caps, top scorer Steeven Joseph-Monrose now plays for Brest in the second tier of French football. Swings and roundabouts.

France took an agricultural approach to stopping Rodriguez in the final

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France took an agricultural approach to stopping Rodriguez in the final
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