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Blog - World Cup Central

Duarte: Dunga's return is complicated

Brazil
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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

ESPN FC Player of the World Cup: James Rodriguez

The top performers from the 2014 World Cup were whittled down to a five-man short list by stats website WhoScored.com and our panel of experts.

Arjen Robben, Lionel Messi, Neymar and Thomas Muller were among the contenders, but with a huge 41 percent of the vote, you crowned Colombia star and FIFA Golden Boot winner James Rodriguez your ESPN FC Player of the World Cup.

Is James a worthy winner? Who else should have been considered? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter -- using the hashtag #ESPNFCplayer -- and in the comments section below.

Who should be named ESPN FC Player of the World Cup?

James Rodriguez (Colombia)

Despite not picking up the Golden Ball, James can rest safe in the knowledge that he was the 2014 World Cup's breakout star. Although he moved to Monaco for big money last year, the Colombia international was not on everyone's radar prior to this summer. After five standout performances in Brazil, with six goals and two assists, his name is on everyone's lips.

Playing the No. 10 role for Jose Pekerman's side, James shouldered the scoring responsibility following the pre-tournament injury to Radamel Falcao. And in what style -- taking home the Golden Boot while firing Colombia to their first World Cup quarterfinal.

James remarkably scored in every one of Los Cafeteros' five games -- including one of the finest goals of the tournament against Uruguay -- while he became the second-youngest player to notch six at a World Cup. Had Colombia's quarterfinal loss to Brazil possessed a stronger referee and James not been kicked out of the game by the Selecao, he could have added even more to that tally.

James Rodriguez claimed the World Cup Golden Boot but not the Golden Ball.

Miguel Delaney describes James as "Colombia's golden boy," while Michael Cox says that "when you break it down game by game, I can't see another winner" and Gabriele Marcotti notes that "in a World Cup marked more by teams than individuals, James stood out. He was totally unfazed by the big stage."

The final word rests with Andy Brassell, who completed a clean sweep of panelists to pick James as their leading light, saying: "Quite apart from being the star of the most aesthetically pleasing team, he kept going in the quarterfinal despite being kicked all over the place, showing fortitude as well as ability. You wonder what James might do in Russia, when he'll still be only 27."