The moment James Rodriguez trapped the ball on his chest and shot it into the Uruguayan net, something changed within all Colombians. That day, when the Colombian national team made it to the World Cup quarter-finals for the first time, it was clear that the country has grown and that, beyond feelings of patriotism, Colombia is ready to compete with anyone. As a result, the Colombian team achieved what no other team has been able to: uniting an entire country. And so from that day on, everyone is an (almost religious) believer in that winning feeling.
Even though the team was eliminated by Brazil, the host, the cure against doubt took effect: FIFA awarded the “Fair Play” award to the 23 young men, the team took fifth place in the Cup, and the Golden Boot was given to James Rodriguez after he scored six goals. Days later, one of his goals was chosen by the audience as the best of the World Cup (the second best was also his). For this young man of 23, his dream has become “Real,” and he will now begin to play in one of the greatest teams in the world: Real Madrid. This player made it possible for Colombia to be cheered, and from now on, he will play as a starter at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. Hala Madrid!
For all those reasons, it was natural that thousands of people gave the team a hero’s welcome, with a sea of people greeting them from El Dorado Airport to Simon Bolivar Park in Bogota. There, the Colombian team was given a special tribute and each player was applauded.
These athletes made 45 million Colombians sing, dance (to the song “Ras, Tas, Tas”) and cry together. That’s why figures like Juan Guillermo Cuadrado, David Ospina, Cristian Zapata, Mario Alberto Yepes, Faryd Mondragón, David Quintero, Jackson Martínez and James Rodríguez are today considered national heroes.
These players are now getting ready for the Copa America in Chile in 2015 and the next World Cup in Russia in 2018.