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 mesmerizing mass of blond afro hair, coupled with his equally flamboyant and mesmeric 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 the MLS. Perhaps one of the most noticeable foreign players to ever grace the 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 play their talents 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, his tactical brain which allowed him to have a strong presence without the necessity of running as much as it would be expected, his exquisite technique on the ball, and his ability to provide assists that were very immaculate. 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.
As a player, Valderrama was known for his excellent field vision and elegance on the ball. He captained Colombia's national football team to victory in the 1994 Fifa World Cup CONMEBOL qualifiers. He always wore the number 10 jersey, and was a free kick specialist.
In the years 2000 "Carlos Valderrama recorded the only 20+ assist season in MLS history. He ended the season with 26, considered to be an unbreakable record.
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.
Valderrama was an elegant player on the ball, in the most unconventional way possible. Always was a slow player, but was blessed with electric, lightweight, feet, which compensated for the lack of pace. A two-footed player, with no obvious inclination towards the right or left foot. Standing at 1.75 mts (5'9) he was of average height, but for a 1.75 mts player he was somewhat wide, which from certain camera angles made him look even shorter. The noticeable and characteristic width to his physical build, was perhaps a crucial factor, that could perhaps explain why Valderrama had such an unique ability. It's difficult to explain in words without necessarily drifting into a subjective persuasive argument, but Valderrama's ability of consistently holding the ball even when two to three opponents tried to take the ball away from him, was indeed described as "mesmeric" many times, particularly by English commentators who were not used to watching such an unusual player. As deterministic as it might sound, maybe a crucial factor as to why Valderrama could consistently hold the ball when it seemed impossible to do so, was due to the extraordinary width of his physique, which allowed him extra room of movement, when moving the ball from one foot to the other.
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 soccer academy in Clearwater, Florida.
- French Cup: 1990
- Colombian Championship: 1993, 1995
- MLS Supporters' Shield: 1996
- 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 98, a video game developed by Konami for the Nintendo 64 and the PlayStation version, 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|
|1998||Miami Fusion||Major League Soccer||18||2|
|1999||Tampa Bay Mutiny||Major League Soccer||27||3|
|2001||Colorado Rapids||Major League Soccer||12||0|
- 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.
- Carlos Valderrama at National-Football-Teams.com
- International statistics at Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation
- Profile at Columbia.com (Spanish)