José René Higuita Zapata is a retired Colombian football goalkeeper. He was nicknamed El Loco (“The Madman”) for his high-risk ‘sweeper-keeper’ playing style and his flair for the dramatic. Higuita’s style of play, which was first shown to a global audience during the 1990 FIFA World Cup, was pioneering in influencing goalkeepers to take more responsibility for situations further from the goal. IFFHS ranked Higuita the 8th best keeper in South American history. His most notable moment being the scorpion kick save.
Copa America 1995
Match Issued Shirt
Did you Know?
Rene’ Higuita was very famous for the shirts he used to wear. Most of them were designed by him directly. This Colombia’s shirt was one of them. Designed by him for the Copa America 1995.
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Higuita would often take set-pieces for the Colombian national team, in all, he scored 7 goals in his 68 international appearances. Higuita’s scorpion kick trick earned him considerable media attention when he successfully used it in a friendly game against England at Wembley Stadium on 6 September 1995, clearing a cross by Jamie Redknapp, although the linesman had already flagged for offside. It ranked 94th in Channel 4’s 100 Greatest Sporting Moments in 2002. Higuita’s unorthodox playing style caused a mistake by him that knocked Colombia out of the 1990 World Cup, when he seemingly dithered with the ball at his feet near the halfway line enabling Cameroon striker Roger Milla to dispossess him and score, putting Cameroon through to the quarter-finals. Higuita described it as “a mistake as big as a house”. As a result of such behaviour, Higuita was nicknamed El Loco (“The Madman”). Higuita is friends with Diego Maradona and played in the Argentine’s farewell match in 2001.
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Rene Higuita played the majority of his club career with Colombian side Atlético Nacional where he helped the team win the Colombian League on numerous occasions as well as the Copa Libertadores and Copa Interamericana, both in 1989. He came out of retirement in 2007 to sign for Venezuelan club Guaros de Lara FC. In January 2008, aged 41, he signed for Colombian second division team Deportivo Rionegro. In June 2008 he signed for Colombian first division team Deportivo Pereira and retired in January 2010.
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Higuita was imprisoned in 1993 after getting involved in a kidnapping. Acting as a go-between for the drug barons Pablo Escobar and Carlos Molina, he was largely responsible for securing the release of Molina’s daughter by delivering the ransom money. He received $64,000 for his services, which breaks Colombian law as it is an offence to profit from a kidnapping. He was incarcerated for seven months before being released without charge. Commenting on the case, he has stated that “I’m a footballer, I didn’t know anything about kidnapping laws.” Because of the term in prison Higuita was not fit for the 1994 FIFA World Cup. In another scandal, he tested positive for cocaine on 23 November 2004 while playing for Aucas, an Ecuadorian football club.
On the pitch, Higuita was known for his eccentric playing style, taking unnecessary risks and actively coming out of his area to anticipate opponents, play the ball out to defenders, undertake individual dribbling runs, and attempt to score goals. Higuita became known for scoring directly from free-kicks, as well as penalties.Higuita also invented the scorpion kick, a clearance where the keeper jumps forward, positions his legs over his head and in doing so, kicks the ball away with his heels.
Watch above the unbelievable scorpion kick save on Redknapp