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July 03, 2006   

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Stars in the stands

Football freaks and autograph hunters at World Cup 2006 had as much fun scanning the stands as the field.

In the better seats you may just spot some of soccer's legends. spotted:

Carlos Valderrama

Yup, El Pibe was there. The 45-year-old former Colombian captain was seen arriving in the stands for the Argentina versus Ivory Coast face-off in Hamburg on June 10.

Check out all our exciting World Cup slide shows

The last time Valderrama played at a World Cup game was in 1998 as the skipper of his country's national football team. He and a then 23-year-old David Beckham exchanged Number 10 jerseys at his last appearance in Lens, France.

Valderrama -- who played 111 matches for his country -- with his trademark wavy wild blond mop and cool dude approach, was famous for his passing skills and his talent of taking over a match walking.

El Pibe (The Kid) began life the way most great footballers do -- as a youngster of an impoverished background playing on the streets in the humble neighbourhood of Santa Marta on Colombia's Caribbean coast. After he gained prominence internationally, Valderrama played for a time with Spain's Real Valladolid and then in the US.

Considered one of Colombia's best players ever, he is also on FIFA's 125 Top Living Football Players list.

He and his wife Claribeth live, with their three children, in Barranquilla, not far from his hometown, where he runs a football academy. In an interview on the FIFA web site, he said if he was offered the job of coaching Colombia's national team he would take it.

Photograph: David Hecker/AFP/Getty Images

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Also See: Football Fiesta: The complete coverage


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