- Keylor Navas is a finalist for The Best FIFA Goalkeeper 2017
- The 30-year-old shined with Real Madrid and Costa Rica in 2016/17
- Gianluigi Buffon and Manuel Neuer are the other goalkeepers nominated
The quality of any individual is best measured by those who know the person well. When it is in reference to Keylor Navas, the Real Madrid and Costa Rica goalkeeper is usually spoken of in high regard.
One of three finalists for The Best FIFA Goalkeeper 2017 award, the 30-year-old’s impact for both club and country draws plenty of admiration. Not only did Navas play his part in leading Madrid to a season of silverware that included a FIFA Club World Cup title and a second consecutive UEFA Champions League crown in 2016/17, his performances in goal for Costa Rica have Los Ticos in a strong position to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™.
It is those contributions that may lead Navas to the prestigious honour of being named the world’s top goalkeeper of the year when The Best FIFA Football Awards™ are presented next month. For his Costa Rica team-mates, the custodian’s nomination alongside Italian veteran Gianluigi Buffon and Germany’s Manuel Neuer is well merited.
“I think he deserves it,” Costa Rica centre back Kendall Waston said in an interview with FIFA.com. “He’s very humble. He’s a guy that works 100 per cent everyday. His intensity in training is 100 per cent every time. There are no days off with him.
“With Real Madrid, he had some issues at the beginning, which is the same with any other player [at a new club], but he’s shown his character and he’s got up from those difficult moments. I think each year, he has improved a lot.”
It was at the last World Cup in Brazil that many in the footballing world were first introduced to the shot-stopping talents of Navas, as the No1 played a key role in Costa Rica’s remarkable journey to the quarter-finals.
“In Brazil 2014, he proved [his qualities] in every game and that gave a lot of confidence around the team, as he made great saves in those games,” said midfielder Christian Bolanos, who played alongside Navas during Los Ticos’ Brazilian adventure. “He’s a very simple guy. He’s very friendly. Goalkeepers have a different mentality, but he’s very good with everybody and he has a good heart too.”
As they edge towards qualification for Russia 2018, Waston pointed to the confidence that Costa Rica has in fulfilling their defensive duties when Navas is in goal. “With the national team, he helps us a lot,” he said. “You feel very secure, knowing that he’s behind us and knowing that if we have any danger [in a game], that he’s going to help us. At the same time, he gives us a lot of communication and he tries to bring all of his experience to the national team in a good way.”
A big honour
Navas’s nomination is already a source of great pride for the central American nation. One can only imagine the level of happiness that his fellow Costa Ricans may have, should he be named The Best FIFA Goalkeeper 2017 in London on 23 October.
“I think it would be massive because it would be something historic,” Waston said. “No player before has won anything so big for the country. Should Keylor win it, I think it would be one of the biggest things for Costa Rica.”