For the first time since 1986, the U.S. men’s national soccer team failed to advance to the FIFA World Cup. Keylor Navas is a big reason why.
Navas is the goalie for Costa Rica, which beat the U.S. twice in World Cup qualifying. Had the Americans won either of those games, they likely would have qualified. But the U.S. couldn’t even get one goal past Navas; the Americans were shut out in both matches against Costa Rica (4-0 in November 2016 and 2-0 in September 2017). Costa Rica is the only team the U.S. failed to score against in qualifying.
An example of Navas’ mastery:
— Univision Deportes (@UnivisionSports) September 2, 2017
Navas, however, is no secret. In the 2014 World Cup, he conceded only a penalty-kick goal to Uruguay in group play, and he blanked both Italy and England to lead Los Ticos to win the group. He finally allowed his first run-of-play goal against Greece in the round of 16, as that match went to a shootout. But Navas emerged the hero there, as Costa Rica won on penalties, 5-3.
However, Navas and Los Ticos would bow out of the tournament in the next round following a 4-3 shootout loss to the Netherlands. Nonetheless, the quarterfinals marked the furthest Costa Rica had ever advanced in the World Cup. And Navas’ stellar play led him to sign with arguably the world’s best club team.
A month after the World Cup ended, Navas signed a six-year contract with Real Madrid. With Navas in goal and players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Sergio Ramos and Gareth Bale in the field, Real has captured the past three UEFA Champions League titles (giving it a record 13 championships total).
— Keylor Navas (@NavasKeylor) May 26, 2018
Following a 1-0 Costa Rican loss to Serbia to open the 2018 World Cup in Russia (in which Navas allowed only a spot-on free-kick), the world’s 23rd-ranked Los Ticos face world No. 2 Brazil early Friday morning.
Amidst his rise to soccer success and all the attention on his game, Navas keeps God at the forefront.
“My faith is the most important thing,” he said in an interview with Spanish newspaper El Mundo. “I believe that the moment I had a very personal relationship with God and I really knew what His Word said, it was not about religion. It was about knowing that what the Bible tells us is what He has left us.”
Navas said he has believed in God since he was a boy, but “having a personal relationship, to be able to talk to God, to pray for things and feel that He answers, the things that He has given me … that has been the most beautiful thing that has ever happened to me.”
Navas and his wife, Andrea, have been married nine years. “She has God in her heart,” he says. “She has always given me unconditional support. She has been with me since I had nothing until God has given us many blessings. It’s incredible for me.”
The couple has two children and strives to keep God at the center of their family. “I think that, first, to have God in our heart — that is the most important thing for us, which leads us to have many values that we try to keep,” he says.
Among those values is to know that while Navas and many soccer players are idolized around the world, none are truly idols. Many people consider his Real teammate Ronaldo the best player in the world, and many call him a god.
“There is only one God,” Navas says. “Cristiano is the best player in the world, but God is God and totally different.”
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