In 1995, Colombian goalkeeper René Higuita blew everyone’s minds during a friendly match against England in the Wembley Stadium when he leapt in the air, threw his legs behind his head, and kicked the ball out of the goal box. The move, known as The Scorpion, is probably one of the most epic moments in soccer history.
The fearless player Higuita was the precursor to the modern goalie, who must know how to play well with his feet and position himself out of the goal area – not just wait under the post and be skillful with his hands.
We caught up with El Loco Higuita in Chile about how the inspiration behind the legendary Scorpion, Colombia’s current national team, and the world goalkeepers of today.
How did the idea for the Scorpion come to you?
The idea came from a TV commercial I did, where I played with a kid and he scores a Chilena (bicycle kick), or Chalaca as we call it in Colombia. I start trying to do the reverse of that move, and began practicing it until I got the hang of it. I told myself that I would try it in a game, and it finally happened at Wembley. Thanks to the people it became the best move in soccer history.
You have another famous move that happened at the 1990 World Cup, when you lost the ball at half-field and Roger Milla from Cameroon scored. Do you regret these mistakes?
Uy no, with all the things I’ve lived, what can I really regret? What’s done is done. I did what I wanted to do. There were times where I won and others where I lost. But lo vivido, vivido está.
How did you become a goalkeeper that was so skilled with his feet? It used to be that goalies were bad at foot play; they were only good with their hands.
I played as a striker until I was 13 years old, after that I became a goalie, but I always remained who I was. I liked to play fútbol, and that’s what I did.
Is there a goalie that is similar to you at this moment?
I don’t know if there is specifically someone that is similar to me right now, but I’m proud of what I did – and that goalkeepers who play with their feet became the standard. We see now that most goalkeepers have to play with their feet, and we see how that German boy is perfecting the Líbero playing style. Without taking too many risks and playing easy, he (Neuer) helped Germany become World Champions.
Who is your favorite goalie of today?
I have Iker Casillas in my heart because very few goalies have won as much as he has. I also like the German boy, (Manuel) Neuer, because he was key to Germany’s World Cup victory and I like what he’s done at Bayern. Claudio Bravo is also very good.
Colombia is perceived as a special team, with personality, with young players like James Rodríguez and Falcao, who not only play in Europe but are stars over there. It looks like a different Colombian team, with more personality than the one that that played in the 90s. Will this Colombian team’s potential be enough to do something in the 2015 Copa América?
I believe in my national team mi patria querida. I believe Colombia will score because it has strikers to score. It is true that they are not playing their best games right now, but they’re not their worst either. I trust that they will improve their level of play against Argentina and that we’ll continue in this important tournament.