Carlos Valderrama

Carlos Valderrama bigraphy, stories - Columbian footballer

Carlos Valderrama : biography

September 2, 1961 –

Carlos Alberto Valderrama Palacio (Colombian Spanish pronunciation. born September 2, 1961 in Santa Marta, Colombia), also known as El Pibe ("The Kid") is a former Colombian football player. His mesmerizing mass of blond afro hair, coupled with his equally flamboyant and mesmeric technique on the ball, made him one of Colombia’s most recognizable footballers, and arguably, one of the most recognizable footballers around the globe historically.

Valderrama was well known during his time in the MLS. Perhaps one of the most noticeable foreign players to ever grace the MLS, he played a huge role in the uprising of the league itself during the 1990s. Most noticeably by becoming a pioneer that inspired a wave of Colombian (as well as general foreign) footballers to play their talents in the league causing a huge influence of increasing both the popularity and strength of the league itself. To this day, he is an icon as one of the most decorated playmakers to ever play in the MLS.

Valderrama was a member of the Colombia national football team in the 1990s. Between 1985 and 1998 he represented Colombia in 111 full internationals and scored 11 times, making him the most capped player in the country’s history. Valderrama was known for the accuracy of his passing, his tactical brain which allowed him to have a strong presence without the necessity of running as much as it would be expected, his exquisite technique on the ball, and his ability to provide assists that were very immaculate. Valderrama played a huge role during the golden era of Colombian football during the 1990s. In 2004, Valderrama was included in the FIFA 100, a list of "greatest living footballers" chosen by Pelé to celebrate the 100th anniversary of FIFA.



Montpellier HSC
  • French Cup: 1990
Atletico Junior
  • Colombian Championship: 1993, 1995
Tampa Bay Mutiny
  • MLS Supporters’ Shield: 1996


  • South American Footballer of the Year: 1987, 1993
  • MLS All-Star of the Year: 1996
  • Major League Soccer MVP: 1996
  • FIFA 100

Other recognition

Valderrama appeared on the cover of International Superstar Soccer 98, a video game developed by Konami for the Nintendo 64 and the PlayStation version, International Superstar Soccer Pro 98. In the Nintendo 64 version, he is referred to by his nickname, El Pibe. A 22-foot bronze statue of Valderrama, created by Colombian artist Amilkar Ariza, was erected outside Estadio Eduardo Santos in Valderrama’s birthplace of Santa Marta in 2006.

MLS career

In the years 2000 "Carlos Valderrama recorded the only 20+ assist season in MLS history. He ended the season with 26, considered to be an unbreakable record.

Playing Style

Valderrama was an elegant player on the ball, in the most unconventional way possible. Always was a slow player, but was blessed with electric, lightweight, feet, which compensated for the lack of pace. A two-footed player, with no obvious inclination towards the right or left foot. Standing at 1.75 mts (5’9) he was of average height, but for a 1.75 mts player he was somewhat wide, which from certain camera angles made him look even shorter. The noticeable and characteristic width to his physical build, was perhaps a crucial factor, that could perhaps explain why Valderrama had such an unique ability. It’s difficult to explain in words without necessarily drifting into a subjective persuasive argument, but Valderrama’s ability of consistently holding the ball even when two to three opponents tried to take the ball away from him, was indeed described as "mesmeric" many times, particularly by English commentators who were not used to watching such an unusual player. As deterministic as it might sound, maybe a crucial factor as to why Valderrama could consistently hold the ball when it seemed impossible to do so, was due to the extraordinary width of his physique, which allowed him extra room of movement, when moving the ball from one foot to the other.