Former skipper Carlos Valderrama has revealed that he believes the current crop of players can surpass the achievements of his legendary Colombian soccer team from the early 90s, reported Futbolred.
In an interview posted on the Futbolred website the iconic midfielder revealed that the Colombian team has benefited from the majority of their star players playing in the top leagues in Europe.
Valderrama, or “El Pibe” as he is known, was captain of the famous Colombian side which qualified for the 1994 World Cup in the United States along with fellow legends Faustino Asprilla, Rene Higuita and Andres Escobar.
Despite their status as one of the best, if not the best, team in Colombian history, El Pibe is backing the likes of Radamel Facao, Teo Gutierrez and James Rodriguez to be even better.
“They can be better. They started younger than us veterans. I remember I went to Europe at the age of 26 and James is 21 now and went to Europe when he was even younger. The same happened with Falcao, (Juan Camilo) Zuniga and (Pablo) Armero. This generation can be better,” he told an ADN reporter.
Valderrama racked up an impressive 111 games for Colombia during his 13 years on the international scene and was captain of the last team to qualify for a World Cup back in 1998.
Now though it seems the country’s wait for representation on the biggest soccer stage could be over as “Los Cafeteros” currently lie second in the qualifying group after big wins over Uruguay and Chile.
This is stark contrast to a few months ago when Colombia were languishing in mid table in the CONMEBOL classifications. Many believe one of the main reasons for the turnaround in results stems from the deadly front trio of Falcao, Gutierrez and Rodriguez.
Falcao in particular has impressed and is lauded by some players and experts in the game as the best out-and-out striker in the world.
Valderrama said that he feels proud to be Colombian when watching Falcao play but also stressed that he also had a great striking team in front of him during his international career.
He said, “I’m super grateful for what I had with Arnoldo Iguaran, Asprilla, Adolfo Valencia, and Victor Hugo Aristizabal. I’m not complaining. I played with deadly scorers, to legends. Now I am happy for Falcao, not just now but for all his brilliant career. He is not lucky; he has continuity, discipline, dedication and pure work ethic. I’m proud to be Colombian.”