If I was to ask you to guess the position of a player based on these three facts what would you go for?
He is 5’9 in height, has three international goals and is famous for a piece of skill which has over 13,000,000 views on YouTube. No it’s not a false nine or a floating number ten, its René Higuita a goalkeeper.
Nearly everyone who was watching football in the nineties remembers that moment when the Columbian goalkeeper playing against England decided a Scorpion Kick was the best way of clearing a Jamie Redknapp cross but there is much more to look back on in the career of Higuita.
René Higuita had a nomadic twenty five year career with clubs in Columbia, Spain, Mexico, Ecuador and Venezuela, he ended his career on forty one goals. Seen at the time of his Scorpion Kick against England as a bit of a joke figure it should be remembered that Higuita was a seriously talented goalkeeper.
He had helped Atletico Nacional win not only the Columbian league but also the Copa Libertadores and the Copa Interamerican whilst being chosen in the South American Team Of The Year in 1989 and 1990.
The goalkeeper whose nickname was “El Loco” also had a few moments in his long career which he is sure to want to forget. Columbia were knocked out of the 1990 World Cup when Higuita lost the ball around the half way line and allowed Roger Milla to send Cameroon through to quarter finals.
Four years later things got even more “Loco” as Higuita missed the World Cup in America due to not being fit, as he had spent the last seven months in jail after being involved in a kidnapping involving Pablo Escobar. Other notable exceptions to a fantastic career included testing positive for Cocaine whilst playing in Ecuador and in 2005 getting plastic surgery to change his appearance.
Higuita is seen as one of the first examples of a Sweeper Keeper and his style of play and freedom with the ball at his feet has surely influenced some of today’s goalkeepers. To think that Ashley Cole made 107 appearances for England without finding the net it is amazing Higuita got three international goals in sixty eight games for Columbia. Higuita had a career surrounded in goals, trophies and controversy and is definitely a Cult Hero.