THE FIVE STRANGEST SPORTING DAYS IN '95

Wembley attacked by rare Scorpion

Goalkeepers have always been a breed apart from other footballers, but there has surely never been anyone quite like Rene Higuita. The Colombian is one of the game's great eccentrics, a player whose dashes off his line have lit up international football for more than a decade.

Yet none of Higuita's previous antics had prepared us for the moment on the night of 6 September that will live long in the memory of all those who witnessed it.

England were playing Colombia at Wembley and 21 minutes had gone when Steve McManaman lobbed a hopeful ball into the penalty area. The pass was overhit and there was no threat to the goal.

As the ball dropped underneath the bar for what would have been a simple catch, Higuita, who may have glimpsed out of the corner of his eye a linesman's flag raised for offside, suddenly dived forward on to his hands, flicked up his legs behind him and kicked the ball clear with the soles of his feet. When his feet made contact with the ball his body was horizontal to the ground, about three feet up in the air. He looked just like a scorpion, ready to attack.

The referee entered the spirit of the moment by waving play on and ignoring the offside flag, thus ensuring that the incident would be part of normal play.

It later transpired that the Scorpion Kick was the goalkeeper's party piece and that he had been practising it on the training ground before the game. A beaming Higuita clearly relished being at the centre of attention after the match; the public was so captivated by the moment that there was even talk that he would join an English club.

The move never happened, of course, and the following day the killjoys of the English Schools' FA were warning schoolchildren against copying the kick "on two counts. One, because it is a crass, stupid way to go about making a save, and two, because it is dangerous."

Could you ever imagine an English goalkeeper doing a Scorpion Kick in the middle of an international?

PAUL NEWMAN

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