Bayern Munich’s James Rodriguez chose not to celebrate his goal against Real Madrid on Tuesday as a mark of respect to his parent club.
The Colombia international struck his team’s second in the 63rd minute and put his hands together as a show of appreciation.
His goal was not enough to help Bayern reach the Champions League final as they drew 2-2 on the night at the Santiago Bernabeu and were eliminated, 4-3, on aggregate.
“I did not celebrate [the goal] because of the years that I was here [in Madrid] and I was happy.” James is reported as saying in AS.
The 26-year-old midfielder moved to Bayern on a two-year loan deal last summer and the Bundesliga champions hold an option to sign him on a permanent transfer.
James scored 36 goals and set up 41 more in 111 appearances for Madrid during his three years with the Spanish giants but failed to earn a starting place under Carlo Ancelotti and his successor Zinedine Zidane.
He won two Champions League medals, one La Liga title and two FIFA World Club Cups with Los Blancos and received an ovation from the Bernabeu stadium crowd after being substituted in the 84th minute of Tuesday’s game.
“I’m happy for the ovation I got because it means that I did good things here so I thank all of them,” he said.
James was quick to defend Bayern keeper Sven Ulreich, who gifted Karim Benzema with Madrid’s second goal in the 46th minute when the ball went past him after a back-pass from Corentin Tolisso.
The German goalkeeper realised he could not pick up the ball with his hands and then failed to clear it with his foot, allowing the Frenchman to score with ease.
“We cannot blame Ulreich,” James said. “We made certain mistakes in the first leg and in the return leg but football, it’s like this and you cannot go back.”
On Tuesday, Bayern had 10 shots on goal, forced Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas to make eight saves and earned 11 corner kicks while having 60 percent of possession, but were unable to overturn their first-leg deficit.
“We played a good game and we were in it but it was not to be,” James said.
“If Madrid have progressed, it is because they did good things. Now we have to think of the Cup final [against Frankfurt on May 19] and be ready.”
Adriana Garcia is a Valencia-based football writer who covers La Liga for ESPN FC.