A Colombian playmaker is quietly matching 3-time World Cup winner Pelé in the area that matters most

  • James Rodríguez is quietly beginning to match the prolificacy of former Brazil striker Pelé.
  • Rodríguez has competed in seven World Cup matches in total – and his goals and assists have been crucial for Colombia.
  • In World Cup competition alone, Pelé was directly responsible for one goal every 1.36 games – and right now Rodríguez is not far behind.
  • Rodríguez is his country’s leading man and if Colombia defeats Senegal on Thursday, there could be plenty more to come just yet.
  • Read all of Business Insider’s World Cup coverage here.

James Rodríguez looks set to embark on another memorable World Cup, four years after stealing the show at the 2014 tournament in Brazil.

Rodríguez won the 2014 Golden Boot award, the prize given to the World Cup’s top scorer, after banging in six goals for Colombia.

With two further assists, Rodríguez was directly responsible for an extraordinary eight goals even though he only competed in 399 minutes of World Cup soccer. When you break that down, it’s one goal scored or created for every 39.9 minutes on the field.

Four years on, Rodríguez has started where he left off, already providing two crucial assists in Colombia’s 3-0 win over Poland on Sunday.

Rodríguez has now hauled in six goals and four assists in seven World Cup appearances to date. On goal participation alone, he is quietly beginning to match three-time World Cup winner Pelé, the Brazil forward who scored 12 times between 1958 and 1970.

In total, Pelé was able to return one goal or assist for every 1.36 World Cup games he played – and Rodríguez is not far behind,according to ESPN Latin America soccer statistician Alexis Martín-Tamayo, aka Mister Chip.

Rodríguez’s prolificacy puts him ahead of clinical German striker Gerd Müller, who scored 14 goals in FIFA World Cup tournaments between 1974 and 2006.

Being mentioned between the likes of Müller and Pelé is a far cry from what he has experienced between the 2014 World Cup and the 2018 tournament in Russia.

His exploits at the 2014 competition landed Rodríguez a mega €80 million ($US93.4 million) transfer to Real Madrid, yet the playmaker was eventually sent to Bayern Munich after failing in three successive seasons in Spain. It was only in Germany last year when he began to sparkle and rediscover the form that won him the 2014 Golden Boot.

Though the Colombian team lacks the pedigree of Pelé’s Brazil, it is clear that Rodríguez is his country’s leading man – and if Colombia defeats Senegal on Thursday, there could be plenty more to come.

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