The ex-Colombia playmaker says his countryman has taken up his mantle for the national side and can go on to achieve even greater things
The Monaco man has taken the World Cup by storm, being voted Fifa’s player of the group stages and topping the tournament scoring charts with five goals.
James' electrifying displays have led Colombia to the last eight and Valderrama could not be happier to see a potential heir ascend to his throne.
“For a long time in Colombia they have been looking for the next Carlos Valderrama. Finally they have found one,” he told the Times of India.
“James Rodriguez will be the next big star, not just now but for the next 10 years. He is unique. He is different from me and a player who can go on to achieve great things.
“He has proved in club football in Argentina, Portugal and France that he is a great player, and has started really well here. I am pleased that he is playing so well and is a focus for the Colombian team.
“He has the potential to be the greatest Colombian player ever, and possibly one of the best ever to play the game.
Colombia booked their spot in the quarter finals with a clinical victory over Uruguay and Valderrama claimed that this generation of the national side had the potential to scale new heights.
“This was a clinical performance by a young Colombia side. I am very impressed by the performance against Uruguay,” he said.
“Their consistency and focus have been amazing and now their self-belief makes them a very difficult side to beat. It is very important that the boys know each other very well and work together.
“There are no similarities at all [to Valderrama’s Colombia side]. We did what we did and represented Colombia in our way, but this generation is doing it their own way.
“The biggest difference is that this generation has the chance to do what we never did, and win the World Cup.”
Valderrama, who won 111 caps for Colombia, also picked quarter-finalists Costa Rica as the biggest surprise package while criticising England and Wayne Rooney in particular for their group stage exit.
“I expected England to do better. In particular I know that Wayne Rooney is a player who normally plays well. I think he is a good player. Even though he played OK at this World Cup, I expected more from him,” he continued.
“They are a young team who need to do better than the previous generation. This generation can go on to do some good things because it is a good young team.
“Costa Rica have been the surprise package, winning a group that contained England, Italy and Uruguay.
"However, at every World Cup there is a major surprise and this time it could come from Colombia,” he added.