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José René Higuita Zapata (Spanish pronunciation: [reˈne iˈɣita]; born 27 August 1966) 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.

René Higuita
René Higuita, 2007.jpg
Personal information
Full name José René Higuita Zapata
Date of birth (1966-08-27) 27 August 1966 (age 52)
Place of birth Medellin, Colombia
Height 1.76 m (5 ft 9 12 in)[1]
Playing position Goalkeeper
Club information
Current team
Atlético Nacional (goalkeeper coach)
Youth career
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1985 Millonarios 16 (7)
1986–1992 Atlético Nacional 112 (1)
1992 Real Valladolid 15 (2)
1993–1997 Atlético Nacional 69 (1)
1997–1998 Veracruz 30 (2)
1999–2000 Independiente Medellín 20 (11)
2000–2001 Real Cartagena 21 (0)
2001–2002 Atlético Junior 4 (0)
2002–2003 Deportivo Pereira 13 (0)
2004 Aucas 35 (3)
2005 Bajo Cauca 13 (1)
2007 Guaros FC 10 (5)
2008 Deportivo Rionegro 10 (3)
2008–2009 Deportivo Pereira 12 (5)
Total 380 (41)
National team
1987–1999 Colombia[2] 68 (3)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

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.[3] IFFHS ranked Higuita the 8th best keeper in South American history. His most notable moment is the scorpion kick save.


Club careerEdit

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 FC.[4] 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.[5][6]

International careerEdit

Higuita often took set-pieces for the Colombian national team, in all, he scored three goals in his 68 international appearances.

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".[7] As a result of such behaviour, Higuita was nicknamed El Loco ("The Madman").[8]

Style of playEdit

On the pitch, Higuita was known for his dramatic flair, composure under pressure, and eccentric playing style, often 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, which led him to be described as a 'sweeper-keeper; he was therefore a pioneer in influencing other goalkeepers to take more responsibility for situations further away from the goal.[3] Although he was a goalkeeper, Higuita also became known for scoring directly from free-kicks, as well as penalties.[9]

Furthermore, Higuita reportedly invented the scorpion kick, a movement which involves the player jumping forward, positioning their legs over their head, and in doing so, kicks the ball away with their heels; one of Higuita's most notable uses of the scorpion was when he performed it while clearing a cross by Jamie Redknapp during a friendly against England at Wembley Stadium on 6 September 1995, earning him considerable media attention[8][10] It ranked 94th in Channel 4's 100 Greatest Sporting Moments in 2002.[11]

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.  

Coaching careerEdit

Higuita has expressed the wish to coach the Colombian national team and in December 2008 he got the job of goalkeeper coach for his former club Real Valladolid.[12]

He joined Al Nassr FC in Saudi Arabia on 12 January 2012, to become the club goalkeeper coach for about 5 years until receiving a coaching job for Atletico Nacional in the Colombian first division.

Personal lifeEdit

Higuita is married to Magnolia, with whom he has three children, Andrés, Pamela and Wilfred. He also has a daughter, Cindy Carolina, from a previous marriage.

He is friends with Diego Maradona and played in the Argentine's farewell match in 2001.

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."[13]

In the ESPN documentary "The Two Escobars", Higuita claimed that he was arrested for visiting Pablo during his time in prison with the desire to thank him for turning himself in thus stabilizing Colombia for a short period. He supported this theory claiming that all he was asked during questioning was solely about Pablo Escobar himself and no kidnapping.[14]

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.[15]

In 2005, Higuita participated in the reality TV program La isla de los famosos: Una aventura pirata ("The Island of the Famous: A Pirate Adventure"), a show similar to Survivor. Also in 2005, he underwent plastic surgery to completely change his appearance.[16]

Higuita has expressed the wish to become more politically active.[17]

Higuita now is the goalkeeper coach of the Colombian Soccer Team Atletico Nacional of Medellin.[18]

Career statisticsEdit

International goalsEdit

Scores and results lists Colombia's goal tally first.[19]

# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1. 19 May 1988 Helsinki Olympic Stadium, Helsinki, Finland   Finland
2. 3 February 1989 Estadio Centenario, Armenia, Colombia   Peru
Copa Centenario de Armenia
3. 3 July 1989 Estádio Fonte Nova, Salvador, Brazil   Venezuela
1989 Copa América



Atlético Nacional




See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "René Higuita". National Football Teams. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  2. ^ "RSSSF".
  3. ^ a b Tim Vickery (10 February 2010). "The Legacy of Rene Higuita". BBC. Retrieved 11 June 2014
  4. ^ Higuita returns to football[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ "Tormann René Higuita geht nicht mehr auf Torjagd". 19 January 2010. Retrieved 30 June 2014.
  6. ^ Tim Vickery. "The legacy of Rene Higuita". Retrieved 30 June 2014.
  7. ^ Shaw, Phil (16 February 1998). "Schmeichel slices into fixture". The Independent.
  8. ^ a b "Colombia 'scorpion kick' keeper Higuita runs for mayor". BBC News. 19 March 2011.
  9. ^ "Rogerio Ceni: Sao Paulo keeper into club record books". BBC. 4 June 2015. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  10. ^ On Sky Sports 1's Goals on Sunday, 29 October 2006 at 1246 GMT, Jamie Redknapp stated that it was a cross not a shot.
  11. ^ 100 Greatest sporting moments – results Channel 4. Retrieved 28 August 2014
  12. ^ "René Higuita, nuevo preparador de porteros en". Archived from the original on 17 September 2009. Retrieved 30 June 2014.
  13. ^ René 'el Loco' Higuita leads Ecuador's keepers – 22 September 2004 Archived 15 May 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^
  15. ^ Vickery, Tim (29 November 2004). "Two of the best". BBC News. Retrieved 30 June 2014.
  16. ^ (in Spanish) Inconforme René Higuita por cambio físico a que fue sometido (El Universal)
  17. ^ "Higuita wants to return to Colombia's national team". Colombia Reports. 1 April 2008. Archived from the original on 25 April 2008. Retrieved 1 April 2008.
  18. ^
  19. ^ Ballesteros, Frank (12 February 2006). "José René Higuita - International Appearances". The Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
  20. ^ "South American Team of the Year". RSSSF. 16 January 2009. Retrieved 18 May 2017.
  21. ^ "Legends". Golden Foot. Archived from the original on 25 September 2015. Retrieved 23 September 2015.

External linksEdit