Now fully recovered after his collision with Tony Jantschke, bundesliga.com caught up with the gifted Colombian to get his thoughts on the game, life at Bayern, and what became of the classic No.10 position…
bundesliga.com: James Rodriguez, how do you feel? Jupp Heynckes said you weren’t able to remember the result at half-time. What happened in the changing room?
James: Fortunately, it was nothing serious. I’m fine now. It’s true that I came back to the changing rooms at half-time and asked how the game was going! They said “We’re losing 2-0” and I said “Really, when did this happen?!”. They told me it was true and I asked again if they were joking. I only realised our goalkeeper [Sven Ulreich] had almost stopped a penalty [Thorgan Hazard’s opener on 39 minutes] 15 minutes after it happened. I got better after that. They did a medical check and there’s nothing to worry about.
Watch: Highlights of Bayern’s 2-1 reverse at Gladbach!
bundesliga.com: Let’s talk about Bayern. What has impressed you most about the club?
James: Bayern are a huge club. They’re used to fighting for titles here, as was the case with my previous team [Real Madrid]. I expected Bayern to be exactly like that, so nothing has surprised me in that regard. Everyone involved with the club behaves in a way you’d expect of a club at the top of its game. There’s nothing more to say. Bayern are a 10 out of 10 club.
bundesliga.com: Today you’re an international star, but when did you decide to be a professional footballer? Was it mandated by your family? Is it something you planned, or did it just happen?
James: Well, my father was also a player, and I think I had it in my DNA. I started playing when I was four years old and I always had a ball at my feet from 8:00 in the morning to 19:00 in the evening. My life was football and I’ve wanted it to be that way for as long as I can remember. I dreamed of being a star and the the world knowing who I was. I’m grateful that I’ve been able to play for huge clubs and reach my goals.
bundesliga.com: You were always a classic No.10, a position many kids dream of playing in. Is it a position that is dying out, though? Not many teams are playing with a string-pulling attacking midfielder today…
James: You’re absolutely right! I think there are no more No.10s left in the world. When I arrived at Porto [James signed for the 27-time Portuguese champions from Banfield in 2010], they told me clearly: “We know you’re a classic 10, but here you’re going to play as a forward.” From that moment, I started working as a “false 9”, also running towards the centre. Eight or 10 years ago it was different, because attacking midfield was a regular position. Today, those who have a 10 on their back are normally centre-forwards or complete midfielders. Football today is tactical and very physical, with no place for No.10.
bundesliga.com: When he arrived, Heynckes said he would talk with you as he understood that it could be difficult to play without speaking the language. How is your German?
James: I’m learning (laughs)! I think I’ve already taken about 10 or 15 classes. I learn things every day. But it’s a very difficult language. But I always say that when you play football, and you do it well, it doesn’t matter if your teammates speak Chinese or French. If you play well, the rest is easy.
James: Exactly! The language of football is the same throughout the world.
* A quiet Sunday. I feel good, and better after the blow I suffered.
bundesliga.com: What do you do on a day-to-day basis when you don’t have a match? Do you take in Munich as a tourist would?
James: Yes, why not? That’s something that can be done here. People are much more respectful, not as fanatical as in other countries. When I go out, although people recognise me, they let me walk, they keep their distance. I can go for a coffee and relax… It’s a fantastic city! I’m falling in love with Munich.
bundesliga.com: Is that possible if you go out to eat with teammates such as Arturo Vidal?
James: You may be asked for one or two photos, at the most. The people are very respectful, for the most part. If I said “yes” to a picture in any other country, there would be at least 16 or 20 taken. But here it’s very calm. They make me feel comfortable.
bundesliga.com: Everyone talks about the atmosphere in the Bundesliga. All the stadia are full and the fans are always singing. Does that have an impact on you out on the pitch?
James: Well, the pressure is always there. But I think that, once you’re out on the pitch, that gets released. You’re so focused on what you have to do, that you don’t notice everything that happens around you. Anyway, it’s a great league, and I enjoy seeing the stadiums full and the party atmosphere during the games.
Watch: James’ new home, the Allianz Arena
bundesliga.com: How is your Sunday when your team win compared to what follows after a defeat?
James: Nothing changes! A few years ago I used to dwell on what happened after a defeat, but when you get older you learn to deal with defeats and bad personal performances. I know I’m going to have to play again in a matter of days and that I have to perform again. It’s not my family’s fault if something happens to me in the playground. When I get home, the match is over.
bundesliga.com: What advice would you give to a young James Rodriguez?
James: I think there are times in life for everything. When you are 16, you may think that you already know everything. I was this way. That’s a big mistake though. Then you grow up and realise you have many things to learn. I’m 26 now but I’m still learning new things every day. When you’re 16 you still have everything to learn.
bundesliga.com: Finally, would you like to say something to the people of Colombia and beyond, who are happy to see you at your best again?
James: Well, I’ve noticed that there are a lot of Bayern fans who support the club and also support what I do. That makes me very happy. I notice that they know that I always try my best. I can only thank you for the unconditional support you give me!