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James hits out at criticism of his weight

Real Madrid midfielder James Rodriguez hit out at critics after persistent rumours about his perceived lack of professionalism and excessive weight.

The Colombian has struggled to make an impact in the first team at the Santiago Bernabeu this season, with reports of an over-indulgence in nightlife and criticism of his physical condition rife.

Coach Zinedine Zidane moved to defend James on Saturday before handing him his first start of 2016 in Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Real Betis, the 24-year-old responding by assisting Karim Benzema’s goal.

But James vented his frustration with the analysis of his professionalism in the media, making it clear he would not stand for comments over his weight.

“The talk really bothers me. Everyone who is close to me knows how I act and that I always look to take good care of myself,” said James.

“I’m a great professional. What’s been said about me going out a lot at night is a lie. It p****s me off that people doubt me and say I am fat.”

James insisted reports he was chased to training on January 1 by police for driving at 200 kmh have been exaggerated, suggesting his loud music stopped him from noticing the pursuing authorities.

“I was not going as fast as everyone says. I had loud music on and when I arrived [at training] I saw they were behind,” the Madrid midfielder said.

“It was acknowledged I could have gone slower. As usual with the press, everything is bigger. But if I see someone behind me I stop, I’m not stupid.

“But I apologise, because I also make mistakes.”

The Colombian was accused of not following Zidane’s request to warm-up during last week’s encounter with Sporting Gijon, but he says it was just a misunderstanding.

“I did not know I had to keep warming up, I just didn’t hear. If he tells me to go, I go,” he added.

Sun 24 Jan, 2016
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