The emergence of a superstar in social


Colombia’s James Rodriguez has been the World Cup’s rising star. Far from unknown before the tournament – Rodriguez made a big-money move to AS Monaco a year ago and was already one of the hottest prospects in the game – his profile has nevertheless gone through the roof in the past month.

He’s made his mark on Twitter too. Rodriguez has garnered 3.3 million mentions on the platform since the beginning of the tournament, though he does remain a long way behind Neymar (18.9 million) and Lionel Messi (14.3 million), the pre-established stars of the competition.

However during the quarter-finals Rodriguez held his own with the biggest names, both on the pitch and on Twitter, where he was mentioned 1.1 million times. Mentions of Messi, who temporarily handed match-winning responsibility to Gonzalo Higuain against Belgium in the last eight and didn’t get on the scoresheet, were only marginally higher.

Twitter mentions are inherently tied to goals, of course, and Rodriguez scored one against Brazil as Colombia went out of the World Cup. More to the point, the replays of his goal and the aftermath revealed that his arm was home to an enormous green grasshopper at the time – perfect social fodder.

Neymar also didn’t score but he did hit the headlines thanks to a nasty injury sustained against Rodriguez’s Colombia. His tournament is under threat and his injury was high-profile; because Neymar has fulfilled his expectations so far and has been the face of the tournament, his mentions tallied 4.3 million on a bittersweet quarter-final weekend.

But the growth in Rodriguez’s talkability during the World Cup has been far more impressive and demonstrate just how quickly he’s emerged as a truly global football figure.  His quarter-final mentions represent a third of his total tournament mentions, a far larger proportion than Neymar and Messi.

More importantly, we’ve compared the number of mentions of Neymar, Messi and Rodriguez now to their mentions in their first matches.

The anticipation of Neymar and Messi’s opening performances was red hot. Neymar clocked in at 2.5 million opening match mentions compared to Messi’s 2.7 million, and both lived up to it in style.

Rodriguez on Colombia’s first matchday? 87,000 mentions.

In terms of total tournament mentions and matchday mentions the Colombian isn’t yet on the level of the established star players, but the increase from comfortably under 100,000 mentions against Greece to over a million against Brazil is extremely impressive.

Even better, he’s earning his social mentions on the pitch. He’s been mentioned over three million times during the World Cup because of brilliant performances, great skills and, in particular, that one incredible goal.