"DREAM OF SAVING GOALS AS MUCH AS THEY DREAM OF SCORING THEM."
Was there any worse position to play back when you were a kid? Pretty much a confirmation you were the least liked (or, worse, least skilled) player on the team, being relegated to goalkeeper was the sort of soul-crushing experience that would stick with you for years—much like your first heartbreak and or having to flush your first goldfish.
We all wanted to be the one to score the goals, chase the ball, be the hero. But, as goalkeeper, those glorified actions were basically out of reach. Sure, you could save the day by stopping a goal, but where was the celebration dance for that?
Mercifully, this all changed in the ’90s, when three iconic players decided to buck the trend and forever change what it means to be a goalkeeper. Here at Fan Ink, we wanted to pay tribute to the players who inspired millions of children to dream of saving goals as much as they dream of scoring them.
The goalkeeper slash striker: Jorge Campos
Despite standing less than 1.7 metres tall, Jorge Campos was among the sport’s most versatile players, making up for his lack of height with his feline agility. “El Brody,” as he is known, came to be considered one of the three best goalkeepers in the world. Popular for his colorful attire, he also famously starred in TV commercials alongside other big names such as Ronaldo, Figo, Beckham and Eric Cantona. What made Campos so unique on the pitch was his ability to save goals as well as score them. Campos was an explosive striker who was always ready to set his gloves aside and go on the attack. With a total of more than 40 goals in his career (34 in the League, 5 in the Cup and 8 in the Concacaf Champions League), he is the highest scoring Mexican goalkeeper and the fourth highest scorer in the history of football. It is because of Campos that FIFA now allows goalkeepers to walk more than three steps into the area with the ball in hand.
The dribbles and the flair: Rene Higuita
Fan have been a little unfair to Higuita, given that many remember him more for messing up during the 1990 World Cup than for his game-changing soccer style. Higuita was undoubtedly ahead of his time—a goalkeeper who could dribble and led his team from in front of the net. Over the course of his career, El 'Loco' scored more than 40 goals, and he was the designated free-kick taker on most of his teams. Higuita really made a name for himself on Atlético Nacional, the team with which he won two leagues and the Copa Libertadores in 1989. He was born to stand out, like he did during the Libertadores semifinal in 1995, when he scored a spectacular free kick in the first leg, and clinched the game in the second to defeat River Plate at Monumental stadium and bring 'Los Paisas' to the final of the most important football tournament in America once again. The scorpion at Wembley was just the icing on the cake that was this Colombian's football career.
The ferocity between the sticks: José Luis Chilavert
Unlike the charismatic Campos and fancy-footed Higuita, Chilavert was a highly opinionated player known for his controversial comments. The Paraguayan may have been a polarizing player, but his leadership, free-kick ability and penalties made him anything but average. On the pitch, the Bull Dog, as he was known, loved to play the villain, but in drawing the flak from opposing teams, he was able to take the pressure off his teammates and always answered any attacks with saves and goals. He represented his home country in two World Cups (1998 and 2002) and scored 67 goals in a career that spanned over 20 years. He became a legend at Vélez Sarsfield in Argentina, winning four league titles, a Copa Libertadores and an Inter-American Cup. He also won leagues in Uruguay and Paraguay, and during his time in Europe, won the French Cup with Strasbourg, scoring the penalty that earned the team its title. Steadfast in his convictions, Chilavert even refused to play the 1999 Copa America when it was staged on his home soil, protesting the fact that Paraguay was investing in soccer rather than in the education of the Guarani people. Love him or hate him, there’s no denying Chilavert changed the goalkeeping game for good.