James Rodríguez is delighted to be compared to Colombia great Carlos Valderrama but the man inspiring FC Porto's attack tells Champions Matchday: "I am my own person."
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James Rodríguez has never watched a James Bond film in his life. This is worth mentioning only because there are persistent rumours on the internet that James was so named because his parents were huge fans of 007's celluloid oeuvre. Although this urban myth is completely untrue, the rather absurd suggestion that he was known as the 'Bond of Banfield' is, in a way, testimony to the FC Porto winger's growing reputation.
Fast becoming the man with the golden left foot in this season's UEFA Champions League, Rodríguez is more commonly called El Nuevo Pibe (the New Kid) in homage to his compatriot Carlos Valderrama (El Pibe) and now wears his hero's cherished shirt number for Colombia. "We all wanted to have the No10 on our backs when we played," he says.
But if the 21-year-old from Cucuta – a large city in north-east Colombia – feels daunted by comparisons with the great Valderrama, he does not show it. "It makes me proud when they compare me to great players," he tells Champions Matchday. "But I am James and I continue to be James. I am my own person and the world can see me that way."
Now in his third term with Porto, Rodríguez is emerging as one of the most coveted players in Europe after adding a tactical dimension to his game. So effective is his favoured left foot that Porto, who signed him from Argentina's Club Atlético Banfield for a modest €5.1m in July 2010, were forced to include a €30m release clause.
Porto's gain has certainly been Juventus's loss. The Italian champions had been in serious talks to buy the wide man two seasons ago before the trail went cold. For now, though, he is performing wonders for the Dragons and has no intention of leaving. "Porto are a club that always want to win," he says. "To play here makes me proud. It's a club with a lot of history."
He is clearly leading by example this season. His goal against Paris Saint-Germain FC – his first in the UEFA Champions League – gave Porto a maximum return from their opening two games in Group A, and a third win at home to FC Dynamo Kyiv last week means a point in Ukraine on Tuesday would take them through.
"We hope we can get past this first stage, because you have to take it step by step and then later you can reach your objectives," Rodríguez says. "You always want to win trophies – when it's the Champions League, even better."
Watch the video above for Rodríguez's thoughts on compatriots Falcao and Jackson Martinez, and on the pressure of wearing the Porto No10 shirt. You can read a full version of this interview in the new edition of Champions Matchday, the official magazine of the UEFA Champions League, out today.