Keylor Navas is an acclaimed professional footballer from Costa Rica. He is a goalkeeper and currently represents the national squad of Costa Rica and the celebrated Spanish football club Real Madrid. Keylor kicked off his professional career with the Costa Rican club Deportivo Saprissa. He represented the club for two seasons following which he was contracted by the Spanish club Albacete Balompie. His impressive performance enabled him to graduate to the Primera Division, popularly called ‘La Liga’—the 1st division association football system in Spain. He played his debut La Liga match for Levante UD against Athletic Bilbao. After playing for Levante UD in two successive seasons, he signed up to represent Real Madrid. He found a place in the Costa Rican youth football squad when the Central American nation qualified for the 2003 FIFA U-17 World Championship organized in Finland. He was included in the Costa Rica men’s national team for the first time when he was 20, for playing friendlies in Europe. He has represented Costa Rica at two CONCACAF Gold Cups and the 2014 World Cup.
Childhood & Early Life
Keylor Navas was born on 15 December 1986, in San Isidro town in the agricultural region of Perez Zeledon in Costa Rica. His parents, Freddy Navas and Sandra Navas, who took care of him in the first few years following his birth, migrated to the US later on.
Before relocating to US, Keylor’s parents entrusted him under the care of his grandparents. However, it was Juan, his grandfather, who devoted more time to him, ferrying him to the training ground in his rickety Toyota. He joined a local football club, Escuela de Futbol Pedregoso, when he was eight.
It was the founder of the club, Juan de Dios Madriz, who spotted raw talent in the young Keylor, and following a discussion with his mother, admitted him. He represented Escuela de Futbol Pedregoso till the age of 14.
Afterwards, he attempted to qualify for the local football team, ‘Club Municipal Perez Zeledon’ but came a cropper because of his short stature. This was the same football club his father had represented many years ago.
Later on, he took the bus to the Costa Rican capital of San Jose to take a chance with ‘Deportivo Saprissa’, a renowned football club.
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Keylor Navas was successful in finding a place in Deportivo Saprissa and played his opening game for the squad in a league fixture against Asociacion Deportiva Carmelita.
He was the goalkeeper of Deportivo Saprissa from 2005 to 2010, appearing in a total of 60 matches on behalf of the club. He played a key role in his team lifting the 2005 CONCACAF Champions’ Cup, and winning six national competitions.
In July 2010, he was signed by Albacete Balompie, a Spanish Seguna Division. In his first season with the club, he played in 36 games out of 42 but his team finished at the last position.
For the 2011-2012 season, Keylor was loaned to Levante UD, a Spanish La Liga division club. He made his debut on 13 May 2012 in the last round match against Athletic Bilbao, which his team won 3–0 and as a result qualified for the UEFA Europa League for the first time.
Keylor signed a three-year agreement with Levante UD, appearing in 46 games for the football club from 2012-2014. He went on to win the nomination for the ‘La Liga Player of the Month’ award in March 2014.
'Real Madrid Club de Fútbol' activated the €10 million release clause for Keylor, entering into a six-year pact with the Costa Rican goalkeeper. Keylor made his Real Madrid debut on 23 September 2014 at Santiago Bernabeu, defending the post against ‘Eiche’.
Iker Casilas, the first-choice goalkeeper of Real Madrid gave his number 1 jersey to Keylor for the ‘2015-16 La Liga Season’ when the former left the club. Real Madrid made a deal with Manchester United to transfer Keylor in exchange for David de Gea but the arrangement fell through.
Keylor appeared in all the league matches of the UEFA Champions League 2015-16 that Real Madrid won. He created a record, a first of sorts as a Real Madrid goalie, by allowing not even one goal against the team for 8 successive appearances in UEFA Champions League.
He became the most successful goalkeeper for the ‘2015-16 UEFA Champions League’ forfeiting just 3 goals in 11 matches and not allowing the opposite side to score any goal in 9 matches.
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He was the keeper in the starting lineup for the final fixtures of ‘2016-17 UEFA Champions League’ and ‘2016-17 La-Liga’, both of which were won by Real Madrid.
Keylor Navas made it to the Costa Rican squad for the 2003 FIFA under-17 World Championship held in Finland.
He was first included in the Costa Rica national team for playing friendlies against Switzerland and Austria in Europe in August 2006.
He was seen in action on the field for the first time on behalf of the Costa Rican national squad in the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying match against Surinam in 2008 on 11th October. He was part of the national squad that was drawn up for two CONCACAF Gold Cup championships.
His efforts, to a great extent, enabled Los Ticos to qualify for the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup competition. He again helped the national team reach the quarter-finals in 2011 but had to opt out in the 2013 and 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup editions owing to injuries.
2014 FIFA World Cup
Keylor Navas was in the starting line-up of the national team that had qualified for the 2014 FIFA World Cup organized in Brazil. His debut appearance was in the group stage game against Uruguay on 14th June 2014 which Costa Rica won by 3 goals to 1.
The lone goal that Uruguay had scored was the only goal he had conceded in all three games at the group level, enabling his team to reach the knockout or pre-quarterfinal stages.
Costa Rica was pitted against Greece in their pre-quarterfinal match. For the first time, Costa Rica was successful in qualifying for the quarterfinals, thanks to Keylor’s numerous thrilling saves during normal time, but especially his heart-stopping save at the time of penalty shootout. He earned the ‘Man of the Match’ title for his outstanding performance.
He was again declared the ‘Man of the Match’ in the quarterfinal game against Netherlands which Costa Rica lost. He was nominated for the ‘Golden Glove Award’ in the 2014 edition of the FIFA World Cup which was eventually won by Germany’s Manuel Neuer.
Best Goalkeeper: 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup
La Liga Player of the Month: March 2014
Best Goalkeeper: 2013-14 LFP Awards
CONCACAF Player of the Year in 2014 and 2017
CONCACAF Goalkeeper of the Year in 2016 and 2017
Keylor became a Spanish citizen from December 2014. He married his girlfriend, Andrea Salas in 2009 and the couple has one daughter named, Daniela Navas Salas, and a son named, Mateo Navas Salas.