- Leo Higuita has been named futsal’s finest goalkeeper in 5 of the final six years
- He raves about his Kazakhstan crew-mates Taynan and Douglas
- The Brazil-born participant discusses their targets at Lithuania 2021
“Goalkeepers will never be named the best season after season like the Messis and Ronaldos,” stated Manuel Neuer. “One mistake and you’ve had a bad year.”
Indeed no-one has ever received the FIFA World Cup™ Golden Glove greater than as soon as, no-one has received The Best FIFA Men’s Goalkeeper on a number of events and 5 goalkeepers have received the six Best Goalkeeper awards at the Beach Soccer Stars ceremonies.
The identical doesn’t apply to futsal. Leo Higuita, regardless of not enjoying for considered one of its megapower golf equipment and elite nations, has remarkably been named its finest goalkeeper in 5 of the previous six years. Despite that, the modest 35-yr-outdated nonetheless bitterly rues a mistake he made at the FIFA Futsal World Cup Colombia 2016™.
In a chat with FIFA.com, he discusses that, raves about two of his Kazakhstan crew-mates, and descriptions his expectations for Lithuania 2021.
FIFA.com: How would you consider Kazakhstan’s Colombia 2016 marketing campaign?
Leo Higuita: That we may have gone additional, doubtless. There are two destructive factors from my profession – issues that upset me each time the topic arises. One was my sending off in opposition to Benfica in the Champions League. It was such a tough time due to the pandemic, however Kairat managed to construct such a robust crew that had all the things to turn out to be champions. I dedicated a foul and was despatched off and I missed the semi-remaining in opposition to Barcelona, which we misplaced by a aim. I really feel accountable. And the first one was at the World Cup in 2016. It actually pains me to consider it. I gifted Argentina a aim and we misplaced 1-0.
If we’d have drawn that sport we’d have received the group – we had a a lot better aim distinction – and had a a lot simpler run in the knockout section. Argentina bought Ukraine and Egypt. We bought Spain and misplaced a very onerous-fought sport. The Argentinian gamers nonetheless owe me a beer for that! The Russians must be thanking us too, as a result of they ended up enjoying a destroyed Spain crew in the quarter-finals. Argentina went on to win the competitors. If I hadn’t made that mistake, who is aware of? I’ll really feel answerable for the remainder of my life.
What was the expertise of being at a Futsal World Cup like?
Wow, wow. To play in a World Cup, it’s the final expertise – not simply in futsal however in soccer, seashore soccer. It solely occurs each 4 years and the entire sport is enraptured by it. Just to be there, there’s such a buzz round the place. And on the courtroom you’ve gotten all these world powers. Every sport is like a battle. You received’t imagine what the World Cup in 2016 did for futsal in our nation. People had been getting up at 2am, 3am to look at our video games. We’d be getting messages at 6am saying, ‘I can’t sleep – you guys are unimaginable.’ We had an entire nation concerned in our video games. I don’t have phrases to explain how that makes you’re feeling.
In the remaining spherical of qualifying for Lithuania 2021, Kazakhstan misplaced their first sport in opposition to Romania and had been shedding their second with simply minutes remaining. How did it really feel to tug off that unimaginable comeback in opposition to Slovenia and get the victory over Czech Republic you wanted to qualify?
It was such a mixture of feelings. Against Romania we had been the overwhelming favourites. We massacred them however, my phrase, a few of the saves their goalkeeper [Toni Tonita] pulled off had been thoughts-blowing. We may have played till midnight, 3am and we wouldn’t have received that sport. But we knew this occurs in futsal, so we didn’t let it get to us.
We stated, ‘Let’s exit and beat Slovenia’. We had been assured, it was nonetheless in our personal fingers. Then with two minutes to go we had been 3-2 down. We wouldn’t have even completed second and reached the playoffs. Man, a lot is going by way of your head. You know the clock is operating down. You’re determined. But we stored preventing onerous, equalised after which bought a winner. Incredible, what a sense. But we rapidly needed to overlook it and concentrate on our remaining sport. We knew that to complete above Czech Republic we’d need to win by three objectives. This sport us much more motivation – we played it prefer it was a World Cup sport, a remaining, and we received 5-2. Sport is wonderful.
What did you consider Kazakhstan’s group draw?
Being trustworthy, there are teams which can be a lot harder. Venezuela aren’t any pushovers. They stunned everybody in the South American qualifiers, and futsal is South American. I suppose Venezuela can be our largest rivals. Costa Rica are all the time at World Cups and appeared actually good at the Concacaf qualifiers. They have the potential to trigger a shock and now we have to be cautious of them. Lithuania are the hosts and there can be the added pleasure of enjoying in opposition to the host nation. At the World Cup it’s important to take each crew critically, however general I suppose we’ve averted the main powers. The group with Argentina, Iran and Serbia is actually robust.
Kazakhstan misplaced 5-2 to Spain in 2016, however drew 5-5 with them at the UEFA Futsal EURO in 2018 and gave Russia two very tight video games. Do you suppose Kazakhstan are a greater crew now than they had been in Colombia?
Without doubt. And it’s due to Kazakhstanis. They all the time had the potential however now they’re stronger, faster and, crucially, have a greater understanding of the sport. Beforehand the crew depended a variety of us foreigners. I’m not saying we’re not nonetheless essential – I suppose we’re all at our peaks – however the Kazakhstanis have taken their sport to a different stage. It’s a World Cup, something can occur, however I suppose we’re a greater crew than we had been in 2016.
What is Kazakhstan’s goal at Lithuania 2021?
As a crew, we haven’t but set a goal. But me, Higuita, I all the time need to do higher than earlier than, so I need to attain the quarter-finals at the very least. We’ve been on a terrific run and we’re amongst the finest six or seven groups in the world. I don’t need to set the bar too excessive, say we’ll attain the semi-finals or the remaining. I undoubtedly need to attain the quarter-finals and a lot rests on the group stage. If you end high, you usually have a significantly simpler sport in the Round of 16. Once you get to the quarter-finals, each crew is of the highest high quality. There aren’t any favourites, with the exception of Brazil, who’re the favourites to win each sport. That stated, Brazil misplaced to Iran at the final World Cup, so something can occur.
What do you consider Taynan and Douglas as gamers?
Taynan’s a celebrity. And he’s a lot extra. As properly as having unimaginable expertise, he thinks so rapidly, has nice know-how and is an actual battler. I love enjoying with gamers like this – gamers who will give completely all the things to win. He’s very totally different, distinctive. There’s no participant like Taynan is world futsal as we speak.
Douglas has been a revelation. I didn’t know who he was. No-one knew who he was. He’d solely spent one yr enjoying in Brazil, in Rio Grande do Norte. When he arrived at Kairat I thought he’d be simply one other participant. Man, I’ve been blown away by him. He’s the finest fixo in the world – by far. He’s so full – he has all the things. I’m actually privileged to play alongside Douglas, Taynan and Leo, who is one other excellent participant. It’s why I’ll be very annoyed if we don’t do properly at this World Cup as a result of we undoubtedly have a few of the finest gamers in the world.
Who do you suppose is the finest participant in the world?
Ferrao continues dazzling, Taynan’s proper up there, however for me it’s Douglas. He scores objectives, no one can get previous him, he’s very clever, his understanding of the sport is on one other stage, he’s so robust, will go for 40 minutes with no need a relaxation, and is an actual winner. I don’t need to sound biased in the direction of Kairat, however Douglas is doubtless the most full participant in the world and for me he’s the finest. He’s a quiet man, he retains himself to himself. If he wasn’t he’d be in the information much more and would have a a lot greater fame.
In phrases of being the finest, how does it really feel to have been elected futsal’s finest goalkeeper in 5 of the final six years?
I look again on all the things I missed out on throughout childhood and adolescence as a result of I was enjoying soccer, all the sacrifices me and my household made, and I suppose, ‘It really was worth it.’ The dream was to turn out to be knowledgeable, to not turn out to be the finest. But to be named the finest goalkeeper 5 occasions is fantastic. I love children and a variety of children will come to look at Kairat and excitedly inform their buddies, ‘Today Higuita’s in aim – the finest goalkeeper in the world. Today we’ll win.’ They anticipate a efficiency from the finest goalkeeper in the world, so I enter the courtroom decided to not disappoint the children.
Speaking of leisure, you’re famend for helping and scoring objectives and altering the way futsal is played in Europe…
Goalkeepers in Brazil have been enjoying with their ft for years, however when I went to Europe it wasn’t the case. There had been goalkeepers who had been good with their ft, however they didn’t take part in the play as a lot. I’ve all the time loved making passes, scoring objectives. The way we received our first Champions League with Kairat was one thing else – we played very offensively, aggressively with 5 gamers. We took everyone by full shock, no one may deal with us. At that time I suppose a variety of people nonetheless thought it was a one-off, however once we received our second Champions League in three seasons – we reached the semi-finals in between – different groups awoke, checked out how we played and realised they needed to change their way. A brand new period of futsal started.
People say I changed the way the sport is played. It makes me, my household, my buddies unbelievably proud. I suppose there have been goalkeepers who had been equally nearly as good, even higher, with their ft, however I was lucky that Kairat believed in me as a fifth outfield participant. When you hear futsal legends telling you you changed the way a whole sport is played, I really feel incredibly proud and emotional.
Finally, do you ever take into consideration what would have occurred when you’d have chosen to symbolize Brazil?
Yes. I suppose that as we speak I could be in the squad, however I don’t know if I’d be first-alternative. When I was known as up by the Brazilian nationwide crew the first-alternative was Tiago, after which got here Guitta – two excellent goalkeepers. The competitors for locations is exceptionally fierce in Brazil. Maybe if I’d chosen the Seleção I’d be Guitta’s again-up now. I bear in mind Kairat played Atlantico Erechim in the remaining of the world championship in 2015, and when I heard the Brazilian anthem I immediately bought emotional. It was completely surprising. But all the things occurs for a motive. I love Brazil however I have fallen in love with Kazakhstan too. The people are fantastic and it provides me nice delight to symbolize my membership and my nation.