Nicknamed "El Pibe", Valderrama is recognizable for his enormous blond bush of hair and is known for his skillful passing and shielding. Valderrama was born in Santa Marta and captained his national team during the 1990, 1994, and 1998 World Cups, before announcing his international retirement after the 1998 competition having received 94 caps and scored seven times.
He began his career at Union Magdalena of Colombia's First Division in 1981. He also played for Millionarios and Deportivo Cali before joining Montpellier of French First Division in 1988. He was transferred to Real Valladolid in 1990 before returning to Colombia in 1992 to play for Deportivo Independiete Medellin and Atletico Juniors from 1993-96 before going to the US in 1998 to play for Miami (1998-99), Tampa Bay (2000-01) and currently Colorado. In the American Major League Soccer (MLS), Valderrama scores relatively few goals (8) for a midfielder, but has many assists (62).
He is married and has three children.