Rene Higuita: The “Crazy” goalkeeper of the World Cup

Written by El-Khoury

“El Loco” Rene Higita, who was pulling all eyes on him in the stadiums of Italy in (1990) and the tragic mistake he never managed to correct! The famous Colombian goalkeeper, the goalkeeper who invented the “scorpion backick”, was much more than just any goalkeeper; not just a goalie who was never in close distance of his goalposts.

Despite being known for his eccentric style of play and the unnecessary risks he took for the sake of… the art of football, Higuita revolutionized the eyes of the people on the goalkeeper’s position, showing the world that a team consists of 11 players and not 10.
And if today he became known for his rich trick, the “scorpion back kick”, he was also known by the 11 positions he played on the pitch and the goals he naturally scored from fouls and penalties.

However, his biggest contribution was that he inspired a new generation of Latin American goalkeepers, with his willingness and capability to participate in the match in more ways than the only standard position.

The “nightmare” World Cup in Italy 1990

So, with Higuita, forcing the coach to change tactics and the defence in order to have the opportunity to push higher, the Colombian national team arrives at Italy’s stadiums for the 1990 World Cup as a group of young and thirsty players who want to win the whole tournament.

With the 2-0 victory over the United Arab Emirates, the 1-0 defeat by Yugoslavia and the dramatic 1-1 draw with West Germany, Colombia advance to the next round of the World Cup, now facing the surprise competitor of the World Cup, Cameroon.

And it was that year when in the fatal match for Colombia, the tragic mistake of Higuita, was to “throw” out of the Colombian National with 2-1 in the extra time… The Experiences Goalie “El Loco” loses the ball from Cameroon’s striker Roger Mila also conceded a funny goal that was equivalent to the exclusion of the country in the continuation of the tournament. Higuita described it as a “mistake as big as a house” and welcomed the harsh criticism.

Four years later, he never managed to “correct” his mistake!

Despite Higuita’s emphatic mistake, it is difficult to forget how much of a fantastic team Colombia was with the crazy goalkeeper on their roster! So, four years later, Colombia advanced to the next World Cup in the United States in 1994 with just one defeat in 34 games, including the famous 5-0 victory in Buenos Aires, which was also the first time in the history that Argentina lost a qualifying match for the World Cup in their home ground.

To keep note of, when Colombia stepped on American territory for the World Cup in 1994, it did not have their crazy goalkeeper in its squad, as he lived an adventure with the law for his involvement in a kidnapping case, followed by his imprisonment prevented him from leaving his country!

A “very strict sentence,” Colombian officials confirmed years later. Despite losing the 1994 World Cup and the opportunity to correct the tragic mistake of the previous World Cup, Higuita scored a total of 8 goals in his 68 appearances for Colombia’s national team, always remaining popular for his “sweeper-keeper” throughout the football world!