Keylor Navas Costa Rica Goalie
Profile of Keylor Navas, Costa Rica goalie. Costa Rica has no shortage of national heroes: military martyr Juan Santamaría, army abolisher José Figueres, Nobel Peace Prize winner Oscar Arias, NASA astronaut Franklin Chang Díaz.
But nowadays none is better known (or loved) than Keylor Navas, 31, the humble he-man who tends the net for Costa Rica’s national soccer team and for Spanish powerhouse Real Madrid. He is one of the very best goalkeepers in the world and he will be in front of the net as the 2018 World Cup Costa Rica goalie.
It was his stunning debut in the
2014 World Cup that cemented
Keylor Navas’ reputation as among
the best of the best.
Just when you thought Navas had few surprises left up his sleeve, on May 1 he pulled off eight — eight! — amazing saves for a 2-2 draw against Bayern Munich to lead Real to the Champion’s League final for the fourth time in five years. On May 27, Real Madrid went on to win the championship for the third year in a row, with a thrilling 3-1 defeat of Liverpool.
And this month, of course, he’s headed to Russia to represent the Ticos as they face Serbia, Brazil and Switzerland in Group E of the FIFA World Cup.
Navas is no stranger to the 32-team championship, having astonished the soccer world four years ago in Brazil when competing in the “Group of Death,” facing world champions England, Italy and Uruguay. Incredibly, he allowed only one goal in three games as Costa Rica defeated Uruguay 3-1 and Italy 1-0, with a scoreless draw against England.
Costa Rica went on to eliminate Greece 5-3 in a penalty shootout, advancing to the quarterfinals for the first time in history. The Ticos finally fell to the Netherlands 4-3 on penalties. But Navas was declared “Man of the Match” in both knockout games.
Navas was born in San Isidro de El General (also known as Pérez Zeledón) in 1986. His parents migrated to the U.S. when he was young, leaving him in the care of his grandparents.
Encouraged by his grandfather, Juan, who drove him to football practice in a rattletrap Toyota, Keylor was admitted to the club Escuela de Fútbol Pedregoso when he was 8. His coach spotted and groomed the boy’s talent, and he remained with the club until age 14.
A few years later, he took the bus to San José to join Primera División power Deportivo Saprissa. Navas played in the goal for Saprissa from 2005 to 2010, helping the team win six Liga FPD titles and the 2005 CONCACAF Champions’ Cup.
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Navas was signed by Albacete Balompié of Spain’s Segunda División in 2010, and later was loaned to Levante UD. In March 2014, he was named La Liga’s Player of the Month, the first goalie to win the award.
The same year, Real Madrid triggered his €10 million buyout clause and he signed a six-year contract with one of Europe’s most storied clubs. Many fans were shocked when Madrid tried to trade him to Manchester United in 2015, but the deal fell through because the paperwork was submitted late. Navas continued to dazzle for a team that didn’t seem to want him.
Real Madrid went on to win the 2015-16 UEFA Champion’s League title, with Navas setting a team record by not allowing a single goal in his first eight appearances.
Representing his country, Navas played in two CONCACAF Gold Cup tournaments, and was named best goalkeeper in 2009, when Costa Rica reached the semifinals.
But it was his stunning debut in the 2014 World Cup that cemented his reputation as among the best of the best.
Now the world will be watching as he takes the field in Russia, and this time the world knows exactly who he is.
Navas married his girlfriend, Andrea Salas, in 2009, and they have two children. He became a Spanish citizen in 2014.
But you can bet the Costa Rica fans still claim him as 100% Costa Rican.
To know more about Keylor Navas, visit his official website.