He won the hearts of many for his exhilarating performances at the 2014 World Cup Finals and is certainly going to be among the stars emanating from these finals. But many may not recall that James Rodriguez, scorer of six goals at the 2014 World Cup, has in fact played against Trinidad and Tobago.
On August 28th, 2007 in Cheonan, South Korea, Rodriguez was in the starting line up when both countries met at the FIFA Under 17 Men’s World Cup.
Colombia were 5-0 winners but Rodriguez didn’t find the net and was kept in check by the T&T defence which included present day T&T senior team defenders Sheldon Bateau, Robert Primus and Daneil Cyrus as well as the deceased Akeem Adams and midfielder Marcus Joseph. Orlando City midfielder Kevin Molino was a second half substitute on that day.
“Those are experiences that make you. You can look back, reflect and compare everything,” Bateau said.
“You look at him now and he was a star at the World Cup. We as players have to believe that we can compete and do just as well. Now you realize that we were on the same stage at the Under 17 World Cup and reach World Cups is not beyond us but it takes a lot more hard work and effort,”
Molino, set to take the field with Brazilian Kaka in the American MLS next season, says T&T can afford to believe that it can hold its own on a world stage.
“We just played Argentina and okay we lost the game but we can compete. James was on the same level, the same field with us in 2007. That was my first World Cup and it’s the same for him. If we can have the right things in place and our players can get the right support then nothing is beyond us really.
I think we as players have to realize what it takes and believe it’s all possible as well,” Molino said. Current World Cup player Toni Kroos was also in the German squad that defeated T&T 5-0 at that 2007 Under 17 World Cup.
Costa Rica’s World Cup hitman Joel Campbell also played against T&T at the CONCACAF 2009 Under 17 qualifiers, scoring in a 3-0 victory in Mexico.