Wear different and usually more colourful soccer uniforms than the rest of the team, and sometimes even a nice hat. Goalkeepers not only play differently but often have their own training coach, who will be more than likely a former goalkeeper. They rarely achieve the status of being the captain of the team, simply because they are too far away from the center of play. In general, goalkeepers shout a lot and often get very upset with their team mates as well as the opposing team, the referee and anyone else who comes within distance. That may be why, goalkeepers, over the years, may have earned the title of being a bit crazy.
There are a number of theories around as to why a footballer would want to become a goalkeeper. Some say that they are failed strikers, who were too big and clumsy to make the grade or frustrated central defenders. One thing for sure is that a goalkeeper’s role is difficult. Supporters will eventually forget a major blunder that a striker, midfield player or even a defender makes, but they will take a lot longer to forgive a goalkeeper their transgressions.
On the other hand a goalkeeper may spend 80 minutes as a virtual spectator in a one sided football match, but needs to be ready to spring into action should the opposing team spring into action.
So is it any wonder that keepers tend to be a little “eccentric”. The history of soccer has produced a very large number, only some of who can be mentioned, and not necessarily in order of eccentricity.
One of the most outstanding goalkeepers of the 1980s and D90’s was the Paraguayan Jose Luis Felix Chilavert, Chilavert played his club football in Argentina and Spain and ran the roost as the Paraguay goalkeeper for more than a decade winning the title World Goalkeeper of the Year by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS) in 1995, 1997, and 1998. As a club player, Chilavert enjoyed the most success of his career playing for Vélez Sársfield, helping them win the Argentine championship four times as well as the Copa Libertadores and the Intercontinental Cup, both in 1994.
A large and imposing personality, Chilavert expressed his ability as a frustrated outfield player by insisting in taking all the free kicks and penalties for the clubs that he played for. First of all, he was too big and crazy to be argued with, and secondly because he was an exceptional dead ball expert. Chilavert earned his place in soccer becoming the first (and to date only) goalkeeper to score a hat-trick in the history of football, while playing for Vélez, with all three goals through penalties. He is also remembered fondly or otherwise for a memorable free-kick goal from behind the half-way line against River Plate. Chilavert took part in 74 international for Paraguay and holds the goalkeeper-record of eight international goals. Chilavert retired from international football in 2003, surprisingly enough after a feud with the team directors.
It is said that Welsh born Neville Southall became a goalkeeper simply because when he discovered soccer he was too old and a little too overweight to play outfield. Yet at his peak, also in the 1990s Southall was regarded as the finest goalkeeper in the world. Southall dominated his penalty area like few others, and when found in a one-on-one situation mostly always came out on top. Neville, who played most of his club football with Everton in the English league, where he made a club record 578 league appearances (over 750 in all competitions) and won two Football League championships. Unlike Chilavert, Southall was a very placid character, who rarely ventured out of his penalty area. Short for a goalkeeper, Southall earned some notoriety as being a bit “unkempt” and needing a haircut, shave and a diet.
Despite that, Southall was voted England’s Footballer of The Year in 1985, extremely rare for a goalkeeper, He represented Wales a record 92 times.
Another famous “eccentric” goalkeeper is Rene Higuita of Colombia, Higuita also liked to have a shot at goal now and again, scoring three goals in 69 international appearances, However Higuita is particularly remembered for three highlights of his career, best described as the good, the bad and the ugly.
The Good: The remarkable “scorpion kick”, save he made in a friendly against England at Wembley. Higuita saved a shot between his feet while perched on his hands, a trick he succeeded in repeating on a number of occasions.
The Bad: Higuita was already known for having an eccentric playing style and taking risks, when an unforced error in the full glare of the World media that got knocked Colombia out of the 1990 World Cup. Higuita was caught in possession 35 yards from goal enabling Cameroon striker Roger Milla to dispossess him, and score the winning goal.
The Ugly: Higuita’s amazing hairstyle which only went further to prove that goalkeepers are crazy.