Real Madrid and Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas is one of the finest players ever to emerge from Central America and is considered one of the best keepers in the world after three and a half trophy laden seasons at the Bernabéu.
Navas joined Madrid in 2014 after an exceptional performance at the World Cup in Brazil and took the number one jersey from Iker Casillas a year later. The 31-year-old’s journey to Real Madrid has been far from conventional though. Here are seven things you probably didn’t know about the keeper.
1- His parents left him when he was four years old
Navas’ parents, Sandra Gamboa and Freddy Navas, left their children in the care of the their grandparents when they left Costa Rica for the USA to seek a better economic base to raise their offspring. In a later interview, Navas’ mother said it was a terrible decision to have to make to leave Navas and his sister, particularly as her son was just four years old.
2- He was rejected by his home town club for being too small
Despite rising to be Real’s number one, in his early career Navas faced plenty of rejection, not least because of his size. He was first turned down by his hometown club, Pérez Zeledón, for being too small and was also rejected by Argentinean side Racing de Avellaneda in 2010 after five seasons with Saprissa in his native Costa Rica.
3- His first European team was Albacete
Although Navas shot to fame while at Levante, winning the LFP award as the best keeper in LaLiga in 2013-14, it was second-division side Albacete that took a punt on Navas in the summer of 2010. Although he was first choice and made 36 appearances, Navas could not prevent Albacete being relegated and opted to move to Levante on loan for the 2011-12 season.
4- He met his wife at an evangelical church
A committed Christian, Navas met his future wife Andrea Salas at an evangelical church in Santa Ana in 2008. Both attended the congregation every Monday and Tuesday and Navas eventually won Salas’ heart by befriending her daughter Daniela, the couple getting married in December 2009. Navas and Salas now also have a son, Mateo.
5- There is a feature film about Navas’ life, but he didn’t star in it
In 2017, the film “Man of Faith” was released in Costa Rica with Colombian actor Matt Márquez García playing the role of Navas. The keeper does pop up in a cameo, along with teammates Dani Carvajal, Sergio Ramos and Marcelo as well as Zinedine Zidane and Florentino Pérez. It didn’t trouble the Oscars, but Costa Rican daily La Nación said it “wasn’t a bad film.”
6- He can dance Bachata
Juanfran García, a friend and former teammate of Navas at Levante, raised a few eyebrows when he revealed the pair often went to classes together to learn the Dominican dance form Bachata.
7- He’s not a bad hairdresser
One of Navas’ sisters is a stylist and the keeper is a dab hand with the clippers as well, as this video of him giving Isco a short back and sides shows.