Falcao 'flying the flag' for Colombian football, says Valderrama

The Cafeteros legend says the Atletico Madrid star has become the poster boy for the county and is enthusiastic about the prospect of World Cup qualification.
Colombia legend Carlos Valderrama says Atletico Madrid star Radamel Falcao is "flying the flag" for the country with his goalscoring exploits in La Liga.

With Jose Pekerman's side currently looking likely to qualify for the 2014 World Cup, the Cafeteros icon and former MLS star is optimistic for the future, thanks to the likes of Falcao and James Rodriguez.

"Colombians as a whole, are very proud of what [Falcao] is achieving," Valderrama told Fifa.com. "He battles hard, scores goals and he’s the team’s figurehead. Before, personally, I couldn't wait for the weekend to watch Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Now I look forward to seeing Falcao too.

"He’ll keep on scoring goals, he’s flying the flag for Colombian football at the moment and we’re going to have the pleasure of watching him at the next World Cup in Brazil.

Rodriguez has become a top player at Porto and is a hot commodity in the transfer market, with Manchester United reportedly interested in the 21-year-old attacker.

"James has done a really good job," Valderrama said. "I’m one of the people in Colombia who really admires him, who always defends him.

"This is a lad who went to Argentina and won a championship with Banfield, and is now a first choice at Porto. He has made a difference and he has not been weighed down by the senior national-team jersey.

"We can rest easy, because he’s only just getting started: we have got a quality player for a long time to come. These players have been abroad a long time and that gives them a bit more international experience.

"I think this generation has the edge on ours because of that. I hope they can prove it by taking the national squad to World Cups, like we did."

Pekerman took the reins of the national team in January 2012, and Valderrama is delighted with the Argentine's work so far. Colombia is currently in third place in the CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying table with a game in hand on the rest of the competition.

"He’s a football man, who can play the game and who, in his own way, has given Colombian football its identity back," Valderrama said. "The players have adapted to him and are getting the results that Colombia and the world like to see. And they've not just won games, they've done it by playing good football.

"Let’s hope we can keep going like this and make every Colombians’ dream come true, by reaching the World Cup again."

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