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5x Best Gk in the world, Leo Higuita, has rewritten the goalkeeping manual - By Miguel Rodrigo

The tournament revealed a clear trend towards the Higuita school of goalkeeping.

The Kazakhstan guardian, renowned in recent years for contributions to the team’s attacking play – and goals – had been something of a rarity on the international stage. Not so in the Netherlands.

“Game after game a sizeable majority of goalkeepers were ready to push forward as fifth outfielders at any point,” UEFA technical observer Miguel Rodrigo commented. “But there were big differences in the way they did it.” Not many, it has to be said, matched Higuita’s attacking impact – although the tournament offered examples such as the run deep into the Bosnia and Herzegovina’s half by Spain’s Dídac Plana and the pass that allowed Carlos Ortiz to set up their first goal of the finals.

More frequently, the keeper could be seen moving out towards a touchline to offer an extra passing option at a kick-in or during build-up play; making a couple of passes without venturing too far into opposition territory; and then scampering back to goal. THE HOVERING GOALKEEPER CREATING THE EXTRA MAN IN ATTACK Spain’s Dídac Plana ventures forward against Bosnia and Herzegovina “It was often to distract the opposition, to make it easier to play out of a high press or to create numerical superiority rather than with clear attacking intent,” Rodrigo mused. “But coaches are increasingly encouraging keepers to become active outside their area and create moments of numerical superiority without the need to send on a flying goalkeeper.”

Two goals were scored with the keeper as an extra outfielder and three were conceded. Some images from the tournament could be compared with the outdoor game at the time when Manuel Neuer rewrote the keeper’s job description and provoked a spate of imitators who were less accomplished with their feet. If the trend is towards the Higuita-style of goalkeeping in futsal, coaches at development levels will need to ensure that keepers are adequately equipped to act as the extra outfielder.

“At the moment,” Rodrigo asks, “do all teams have keepers with enough ball skills to play this way?” 

Article written by Miguel Rodrigo in the UEFA CUP 2022 Tournament Review/Report: Read full technical report: Click here

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