With a successful penalty kick in the 80th minute of Friday's 2-1 quarter-finals loss to Brazil, Colombia's James Rodriguez became the second-youngest player in the history of the World Cup to score six goals in a single tournament, per ESPN Stats & Info. Brazilian legend Pele was the youngest to accomplish the feat, having scored six goals in four games at the 1958 World Cup in Sweden when he was just 17 years old.
Rodriguez, who will celebrate his 23rd birthday on July 12, was the driving force behind Colombia's first-ever trip to the World Cup quarterfinals. Previously, Colombia's best finish had come in 1990, when Los Cafeteros fell by a score of 2-1 in the round of 16 to a Cameroon squad that featured a 38-year-old Roger Milla.
While the ultimate goal was not achieved, Rodriguez couldn't have done much more in the tournament. He scored one goal in each of Colombia's three group-stage matches, as the team came away with the full nine points. Having already done his part to lead Colombia to the knockout rounds for just the second time, Rodriguez proceeded to score both goals in a 2-0 win over Uruguay in the round of 16.
As impressive as Rodriguez was, his achievement still pales in comparison to what happened in 1958, when Pele missed the first two matches of the group stage due to a knee injury before failing to score in the third and final group match.
Never one to be discouraged, Pele scored the lone goal in a 1-0 quarter-finals win over Wales, then notched a hat-trick against France in the semi-finals. Only 17 years old, he ensured his legacy at an early age by scoring a pair of goals in a 5-2 win over Sweden in the World Cup final.
Had Colombia advanced to this year's final, Rodriguez would have played the game one day after his 23rd birthday. Given that only seven players have even played in a World Cup before the age of 18, Pele's record should be safe for quite some time.
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