May
07
2008
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Rene Higuita – The Crazy Football Goalkeeper

At just 1.75m, Rene Higuita has always one been of the smallest goalkeepers around – as well as one of the most spectacular. Indeed, it is not just fans back home in Colombia who call him “El Loco” (“The Crazy One”)
… and with good reason too. Higuita has scored 41 goals in competitive football matches during his 23-year football career – four from free-kicks, the rest from the penalty spot – but it is undoubtedly for one particular piece of action against England at Wembley in 1995 that most people know his name. Higuita performed a “scorpion kick” and probably the most unusual save in the history of the football game by flinging himself through the air and underneath the approaching ball to flick it away from goal with both feet behind him and above his head. Hard to imagine? Then take a look at this video of his stunning acrobatics: http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=CYWiVN3aQWY&NR=1. Higuita also hit the headlines at the 1990 FIFA World Cup™ in Italy by venturing outside of his area and losing the ball to Cameroon’s Roger Milla, who promptly scored the goal that signalled the end of Colombia’s campaign at the round-of-16 stage. The keeper with an eye for goal later spent nine months in prison after trying to act as a mediator in the kidnap of a 14-year-old girl before he was finally able to prove his innocence, and just a couple of years later, Higuita and his family narrowly escaped a bomb attack. More recently, or three years ago to be precise, Higuita appeared on a reality TV show and underwent plastic surgery to radically change his appearance, but the Colombian icon is now making headlines on the football field once again after signing a one-year contract with Deportivo Rionegro in the Colombian second division at the age of 41. Rionegro are Higuita’s eleventh club and if he has his way, they will not be his last. “I still feel fit. I am motivated, I love football and I want to carry on playing for a long time to come,” he says. “I would also love to end my career at my first club, Atletico Nacional de Medellin.” And when might that be? “Someday. Maybe when I’m 45.”