Four years ago, a dashing smile and spectacular volley set Colombia’s 22-year-old talisman James Rodriguez on the way to stardom. Six goals in five games put him on the map and made him a new ‘golden boy’ of European football.

Four years later, he has played for two of Europe’s most prestigious clubs, winning eight titles which should go down as a successful period for James. But in wanting out of Los Blancos for game-time, he’s had to rebuild his reputation to the astronomical level it reached in Rio. A Bundesliga winner with Bayern Munich and noted as a key figure in the side, the World Cup is set for another ‘James Rodriguez Show’.

No-one expected the class of such a promising talent to blossom on the grandest stage back in Brazil, particularly in scoring one of the greatest World Cup goals ever against Uruguay. People now expect the moments of inspiration and being a man who can carry his nation to a victory, how will he handle the daunting pressure?

He has been plagued by injuries since he made the step up to the elite which effected his place in Zinedine Zidane’s dominating Galacticos. Rodriguez did manage double-figures for goals and assists in two of his three years in the Spanish capital, which are superb stats. Yet Zidane’s preference to Isco and the numerous short-term knocks left Rodriguez on the outskirts and the perfect smile wasn’t seen as often as before.

Skip to last summer and one of the deals of the summer. Carlo Ancelotti signed Rodriguez after his breakthrough World Cup for Madrid, and he was the man that has resurrected the prime-time ‘James Rodriguez Show’ at Bayern Munich. A two-year loan deal after which the German champions can purchase the playmaker for £40 million, it was an escape route back to the top.

Seven goals and 11 assists in his debut year at the Allianz Arena including a goal back in Madrid in the Champions League semi-final, he is an established starter who new manager Niko Kovac can base a team around.

Whilst he has had ups and downs in club competitions, there is no doubt he is the protagonist for Colombia. He was instrumental in their automatic qualification for this summer in Russia with countless goals and assists, including the decisive strike on the final match-day which guaranteed their passage. Rodriguez is the personification of the pride players should have when representing his country.

He is a world class player, undoubtedly, yet he somehow has this extra gear for his country which makes Colombia dark-horses in Russia this month. In arguably the most evenly placed group in the draw, they’ll need inspiration from their leader yet again. Taking on Poland, Japan and Senegal it makes for exciting encounters with Robert Lewandowski, Keisuke Honda and Sadio Mane set to star for their countries.

He’s been the World Cup’s ‘Golden Boy’. This year – matured and experienced – he could be the World Cup’s ‘Golden Man’.

Here’s a quick recap of exerts of James Rodriguez back in 2014…

Credit: В Гостях У Master`a