Jose Luis Chilavert: 'The ref was in my way, but luckily he moved - it could have knocked him out!'

On his 50th birthday, FFT pays homage to the goalscoring goalkeeper who recalls his long-distance effort against River Plate in 1996...

Paraguayan goalkeeper Jose Luis Chilavert scored 62 goals in his career, his size four left foot helping him become something of a set-piece and penalty specialist. The greatest of them all was playing for Velez Sarsfield against River Plate, with an incredible 60-metre free-kick.

"Some players have scored from long distance, but it was usually by chance,"says Chilavert. "œThis was different. I saw that [River Plate keeper] Burgos was outside the box, watching birds rather than concentrating on the game. So I started running desperately. As I arrived, I noticed the referee was in the way and shouted: '˜Move!'™ Luckily, he did –“ the shot could have knocked him out if he hadn'™t ducked.

"I thought the ball was going too high, but then it started going down quickly. When Burgos tried to react, it was too late. I landed on the floor like an airplane and so did my team-mates. Even River players congratulated me! It was very special for me as my father was recovering from heart treatment and I could dedicate it to him.

"We won the game and I gave my shirt to the referee. It was his last professional game and, besides, he deserved it for his reflexes!"

Illustration: German Aczel. From the February 2011 issue of FourFourTwo.