- Kevin Mier's shootout heroics sent Colombia in the quarter-finals
- He discusses his admiration for David de Gea
- Mier insists Los Cafeteros are going for gold
After 120 minutes failed to separate Colombia and New Zealand in one of the games of this FIFA U-20 World Cup so far, Los Cafeteros finally prevailed 5-4 on penalties with goalkeeper Kevin Mier emerging as the shootout hero.
“It was unbelievable, I’m thrilled we’re still in the competition," Mier told FIFA.com. "The penalties? It’s not the first time I’ve saved one, but those interventions were different as the rewards are so great.”
Headlines such as ‘El Salvador de Colombia' (Colombia’s Saviour) soon appeared in the country’s media after the epic encounter in Lodz. Mier did not just excel during the shootout, denying New Zealand twice, but also produced two fantastic stops during the match.
“It was a beautiful game," said the player who is emulating Rene Higuita, Miguel Calero and David Ospina in guarding the net for Atletico Nacional. "Thank God we won it and we’ve reached the quarter-finals.
“Which words would I use to describe the team’s state of mind? Two words: ecstatic, but also calm. Ecstatic because we’re in the quarter-finals, but calm because we have to stay composed if we want to achieve more success here.”
The clash with New Zealand produced drama throughout. The Junior All Whites looked to have control of the shootout when Michael Woud saved Colombia's first two spot-kicks. However, Mier did not lose hope and rallied his team-mates, insisting all was not lost. The keeper then stepped up to salvage the situation himself, twice outwitting his opponents.
“Was that the most important penalty stop of my career?" he said. "Well, I’ve saved spot-kicks before and I’m known for it to a certain extent, but, yes, this is a unique feeling because these saves have brought us so much joy.”
Colombia have had some terrific goalkeepers over the years, none more so than Higuita, but Mier’s goalkeeping hero is from a more recent generation.
“I admire David de Gea, he’s the one I model my game on. I really love watching him play,” said the 19-year-old, who had many people to thank after the win. “I dedicate this victory to my family, who, just like my fellow Colombians, have followed all our matches on television back home. The fans who’ve travelled to Poland also deserve credit – they really got behind us tonight.”
When asked how far Los Cafeteros could go in Poland, the young keeper was adamant: “Our dream is to reach the final and lift the trophy. Let’s stay calm and take things step by step though.”
Colombia will face either Ukraine or Panama in the quarter-finals.