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Meet the goalkeeper who invented scorpion kick and went to prison for working with Pablo Escobar

Goalkeepers don’t normally score 41 career goals but with Rene Higuita everything is normal.

Rene Higuita who is known for frequently charging up field to score goals was often his team first choice free-kick and penalty taker, ending his career with 41 goals.


Who is Rene Higuita?

José René Higuita Zapata; born August 27 1966 is a former Colombia international who started his football career with Colombian club Millonarios in 1985 before quickly transferring to Atlético Nacional where he played majority of his club football, winning numerous Colombian league titles,1 Copa Libertadores and a Copa Interamericana.

He played for a total of 11 clubs.

René Higuita had a journeyman career, playing for a total of 11 clubs in a career spanning 24 years.


His clubs includes:

Millonarios, Atlético Nacional, Independiente Medellín, Real Cartagena, Atlético Junior, Deportivo Pereira and Deportivo Rionegro all in Colombia.

He also played for Real Valladolid – Spain, Veracruz – Mexico, Aucas – Ecuador and Guaros FC – Venezuela.

A pioneer of the sweeper-keeper.

René Higuita is well known for his high risk style of play.

He was comfortable under pressure, charging out of his area to intercept passes, make dribbling runs or pass to his teammates, often coming out to take penalties or free kick.

Bayern Munich goalkeeper, Manuel Neuer is the reference point for sweeper goalkeepers today.

He invented the scorpion kick.

One of football most popular kick was invented by René Higuita.

He popularly used the scorpion kick to clear a Jamie Redknapp cross during England vs Colombia match on September 6 1995.

Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud scorpion kick goal scored in a premier league game against Crystal palace won FIFA Puskas award for goal of the year in 2017.

Imagine a goalkeeper pulling off scorpion kick to stop shot in goal?

He was nicknamed El Loco (The Madman) .

His high risk style of play earn him the Madman nickname.

René Higuita was known for his flair and dramatic style of play, sometimes dribbling out of the defense to attempt a shot at goal.

He once punch a rival fan in the face after receiving insults from him.

The back-pass rule, also known as the Higuita Law was influenced by him.

the back-pass rule prohibits a goalkeeper from handling the ball when it is deliberately passed to them by a team-mate who is not under pressure.

It was René Higuita style of play that led to the creation of the back-pass rule , with goalkeepers only allowed to play a teammate back-pass with their foot.

He was sacked by his club after failing a drug test.

René Higuita was sacked by Ecuadorian clubAucas in 2004 after failing a drug test.

He tested positive for cocaine for the second time in two years.

Higuita was banned for 6 matches in 2002 after he failed similar drug test.

He was imprisoned for working with drug baron Pablo Escobar.

René Higuita was imprisoned for kidnapping in 1993.

He acted as the middle man between Pablo Escobar and Carlos Molina whose daughter was kidnapped and he was able to secure Molina’s daughter release after delivering ransom money to Escobar.

He received $64,000 which is against Colombia laws.

Higuita was in prison for seven months but was released without charge after claiming ignorance of the law.


Coaching career?

René Higuita became goalkeeping coach for former club Real Valladolid in 2008.

He was Saudi Arabia club, Al Nassr goalkeeping coach for five years, between 2011 and 2016.

He joined Atletico Nacional in 2017, becoming their goalkeeping coach.


What the man have to say

A summary of René Higuita interview ahead of the 2018 world cup:

At the end of my career, there was positives as well as mistakes. One of such mistakes was Cameroon Roger Milla’s goal in the world cup last 16.

But, then it was only after people saw Rene Higuita play that way that the rules were changed – talking about the back-pass rule.

It was decided that goalkeepers had to play with their feet. Not even Pele, Maradona or Messi achieved that.

Along came a Colombian and he said to everyone: This is Higuita’s Law. This is how keepers have to play. There were mistakes but that is what we did. We put the focus on the ball and being brave.

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