Valderrama in 2010
|Full name||Carlos Alberto Valderrama Palacio|
|Date of birth||September 2, 1961|
|Place of birth||Santa Marta, Colombia|
|Height||5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)|
|1996–1997||Tampa Bay Mutiny||43||(7)|
|1999–2001||Tampa Bay Mutiny||71||(5)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).
Carlos Alberto Valderrama Palacio (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈkarlos alˈberto βaldeˈrama paˈlasjo]; born September 2, 1961 in Santa Marta, Colombia), also known as El Pibe ("The Kid") is a former Colombian football player. His distinctive blonde hair, coupled with his flamboyant technique on the ball, made him one of Colombia's most recognizable footballers, and arguably, one of the most recognizable footballers around the globe historically.
Valderrama was well known during his time in Major League Soccer. Perhaps one of the most noticeable foreign players to ever grace MLS, he played a huge role in the uprising of the league itself during the 1990s; most noticeably by becoming a pioneer that inspired a wave of Colombian (as well as general foreign) footballers to ply their trade in the league causing a huge influence of increasing both the popularity and strength of the league itself. To this day, he is an icon as one of the most decorated playmakers to ever play in the MLS.
Valderrama was a member of the Colombia national football team in the 1990s. Between 1985 and 1998 he represented Colombia in 111 full internationals and scored 11 times, making him the most capped player in the country's history. Valderrama was known for the accuracy of his passing and assisting, his tactical brain which allowed him to have a strong presence without the necessity of running as much as it would be expected, his precise technique on the ball, and his clean assists. Valderrama played a huge role during the golden era of Colombian football during the 1990s. In 2004, Valderrama was included in the FIFA 100, a list of "greatest living footballers" chosen by Pelé to celebrate the 100th anniversary of FIFA.
Valderrama began his career at Unión Magdalena of the Colombian First Division in 1981. He also played for Millonarios and Deportivo Cali before joining Montpellier of the French First Division in 1988. He then went on to play for Independiente Medellín and then Atlético Junior, for whom he won the Colombian championship in 1993 and 1995. In 1996, he went to the US to play for the Tampa Bay Mutiny (1996–97, 2000–01), Miami Fusion (1998–99), and Colorado Rapids (2001–02). While a member of the Mutiny, the team would sell Carlos Valderrama wigs at Tampa Stadium. In Major League Soccer, Valderrama scored relatively few goals (16) for a midfielder, but is the league's second all-time leader in assists (114) after Steve Ralston (121), a former teammate. In 2005, he was named to the MLS All-Time Best XI. He was also named one of the top players of the 20th century by Pelé in 1999.
Valderrama began his Major League Soccer career with the Tampa Bay Mutiny in the league's inaugural year of 1996, and won its first Most Valuable Player award. In 2000 Valderrama recorded the only 20+ assist season in MLS history—ending the season with 26—a record that remains intact today, and which MLS itself suggested was an "unbreakable" record in a 2012 article. Valderrama remained in the league until 2002, playing for the Mutiny, Miami Fusion, and the Colorado Rapids in his eight-year American soccer career.
Retirement as player
In February 2004, Valderrama ended his 22-year career in a tribute match at the Metropolitan stadium of Barranquilla, with some of the most important football players of South America, such as Diego Maradona, Enzo Francescoli and José Luis Chilavert.
Valderrama has since become assistant manager of Atlético Junior. On November 1, 2007, Valderrama accused a referee of corruption by waving cash in the face of Oscar Julian Ruiz when the official awarded a penalty to América de Cali. Junior lost the match 4–1, which ended the club's hopes of playoff qualification.
Although Valderrama was known for being a "classic number ten" player, as was typical of South American sides of that era, in reality, Valderrama was tactically speaking a deep lying playmaker, which is a fundamentally different role than that of the traditional classic number ten player. Valderrama's instantly striking features where, of course, his hair, but perhaps more importantly, his very quick and electric feet; his footwork was similar to that of much smaller and shorter players, which for a player of Valderrama's build and height is not a common physical feature. Although his passing ability was considered to be no lesser than the best European players of the time, it was his ability for shielding the ball that differentiated him from most of his peers; his ball retention ability was always the subject of praise, not only effective from a practical stand point, but also unique from an aesthetic stand point, which marked out Valderrama as an interesting player to watch.
In that respect, Laurent Blanc who played with Valderrama in Montpellier, described Valderrama perhaps more accurately than anyone else, when he said “In the fast and furious European game he wasn’t always at his ease. He was a natural exponent of ‘toque’, keeping the ball moving. But he was so gifted that we could give him the ball when we didn’t know what else to do with it knowing he wouldn’t lose it… and often he would do things that most of us only dream about!”. Most people tend to remember Valderrama mostly for his hair and then for his passing ability, but in reality his strongest attributes were his ball retention ability and his aesthetic value as an artistic entertainer, which Laurent Blanc described so concisely and yet so accurately.
Valderrama's passing was highly accurate to the point where he held a consistent rate of assists and getting involved in plays that often related to goals. This also involved free kicks, whether supporting his teammates, or attempt on goal. His creativity made him very influential, to the point where he became a known legend throughout South America, and eventually throughout the world of football.
Aside from his passing talents, Valderrama held very precise ball-control and dribbling abilities that was supported by quick reactions, and his disciplined mindset. This allowed him to perform impressive plays that have been highlighted throughout his career. Overall, Valderrama had proven to be an extremely selfless player for both club, and nation.
One of his most impressive moments, was during the 1990 FIFA World Cup last group stage match against Germany. In a game where Colombia needed at least a draw to survive into the next round, Pierre Littbarski scored what appeared to be the winning goal in the 88th minute. However, within the last seconds of extra time, Valderrama made a crucial pass to Freddy Rincon who equalized immediately and saved Colombia into the next round.
Valderrama is married and has three children. Valderrama was the only Colombian to feature in FIFA's 125 Top Living Football Players list in March 2004. He is currently a coach for a football academy called Clearwater Galactics  in Clearwater, Florida.
- Montpellier HSC
- French Cup: 1990
- Atletico Junior
- Colombian Championship: 1993, 1995
- Tampa Bay Mutiny
- MLS Supporters' Shield: 1996
- Copa América MVP: 1987
- South American Footballer of the Year: 1987, 1993
- MLS All-Star of the Year: 1996
- Major League Soccer MVP: 1996
- FIFA 100
Valderrama appeared on the cover of International Superstar Soccer Pro 98. In the Nintendo 64 version, he is referred to by his nickname, El Pibe. A 22-foot bronze statue of Valderrama, created by Colombian artist Amilkar Ariza, was erected outside Estadio Eduardo Santos in Valderrama's birthplace of Santa Marta in 2006.
|France||League||Coupe de France||Total|
|Spain||League||Copa del Rey||Total|
|1990–91||Real Valladolid||La Liga||17||1|
|1996||Tampa Bay Mutiny||Major League Soccer||23||4||1||1||24||5|
|1998||Miami Fusion||Major League Soccer||18||2||1||0||19||2|
|1999||Tampa Bay Mutiny||Major League Soccer||27||3||2||0||29||3|
|2001||Colorado Rapids||Major League Soccer||12||0||0||0||12||0|
Scores and results lists Colombia's goal tally first.
- Colombian Spanish pronunciation.
- FIFA 100
- AP (2007), Valderrama expelled from match for taunting referee with cash, USA Today, 1 November 2007, usatoday.com. Retrieved 10 July 2008.
- Mamrud, Roberto (13 March 2004). "Carlos Alberto Valderrama - Century of International Appearances". The Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
- Carlos Valderrama at National-Football-Teams.com
- International statistics at Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation
- Profile at Columbia.com (Spanish)