Johnny Vegas scored 45 goals during his career. Source: Instagram @johnnyvegasf
Johnny Vegas scored 45 goals during his career. Source: Instagram @johnnyvegasf

When goalkeepers score: The goalkeeper who preferred scoring a goal to making a wonderful save

Football OlyBet 08.05.2024

Scoring goals is a real art in football, which of course is best done by strikers. However, some midfielders and defenders are undeniably good at it too – we have already introduced you to the latter on Olybet.TV. 

However, it can happen sometimes that the goalkeeper’s name also appears on the scoreboard, and it is not connected with an own goal. We’ll now introduce you to these extraordinary goalies as part of another ten-part series. 

4th place – Johnny Vegas (45 goals)

One thing we must sort out right away regarding the hero of our story is that his real name is indeed Johnny Vegas. Or more specifically, Johnny Martín Vegas Fernández. Why are we mentioning this? Because most of the world knows Johnny Vegas to be a British comedian, but the latter goes by the real name Michael Joseph Pennington.

Johnny Martín Vegas Fernández is no comedian, that’s for sure. He is a goalkeeper from Huancayo, Peru’s sixth-largest city with a population of 456,000, who became famous for saves, penalties and free kicks, and whose career spanned 20 years.

He started his football path in the ranks of Cantolao, which is not a big club in Peru, but whose academy is very, very highly valued. In retrospect, Vegas appreciates the toughness there, because that’s how he laid a solid foundation for his professional career.

“Playing in big stadiums was never a problem for me, because I had such experience from a young age,” he fondly recalled the eight years of his youth spent in Cantalao.

Quickly rose to stardom

At the age of 17, Vegas moved on to Sport Boys, with whom he signed a professional contract. However, he had to wait quite a bit for his debut for them: it happened when he was 21. However, after pulling on the gloves, Vegas never took them off.

Between 1997 and 2003, he defended Sport Boys’ goal in a total of 189 matches, and although they did not win any trophies there, he helped the club to silver in the Peruvian Championship (Apertura) in 2000 and to the Copa Libertadores, the South American Champions League, the following year.

On a personal level, the years spent at Sport Boys were also successful for Vegas. In seven seasons, he scored 20 goals and in 2001 was chosen as the best goalkeeper in the Peruvian Premier League.

According to the man himself, the best performance of his career was during this period, albeit it came from a losing game against the Paraguayan club Cerro Porteño. But Vegas simply made so many wonderful saves in that match that the opposing team came to have a chat with him after the match to ask about his age and current contract.

The title and his years as a nomad

Although that transition didn’t work out, in 2004 Vegas still decided it was time to move on. He then represented Haral Union, San Martin and Melgar for the next season and a half, before joining Sporting Cristal in 2005. In their ranks, he managed to win the first and only Peruvian championship in his career.

He stayed at the Cristal club for three seasons until he started to wander about again. Between 2008 and 2017, Vegas wore the jerseys of ten different clubs. He finished his football journey at La Bocana.

After the end of his career, Vegas did not steer away from his beloved football but became a coach for goalkeepers. Initially, he worked for major league clubs, but as for now, he is earning his keep at the Peruvian Football Association.

Vegas surely has knowledge and know-how to pass on, because not every guy who is only 177 centimetres tall can earn a living as a goalkeeper for 20 years. Not to mention becoming the national champion, winning the best goalkeeper trophy, or representing the national team three times.

Chilavegas and “that feeling”

“Currently, there are no goalkeepers this short in Peruvian football. I guess this shows that technically I was at a good level with my saves. And it was also a plus that I scored goals,” said the captain, nicknamed Chilavegas by his fans. Why Chilavegas? Taking inspiration from Jose Luis Chilavert, of course!

But when it comes to scoring goals, the feeling is simply something extraordinary, according to Vegas. “When a goalkeeper scores, he gets famous – everyone realizes very quickly that it’s something you’re going to do in the future as well. However, for the fans of your club, those goals don’t matter because they love you for the saves.

Even so, I must admit that I prefer scoring a goal to an amazing save anytime. It’s just the most amazing feeling in football. But to be a goalkeeper at the same time, to walk to the other side of the pitch and take a penalty, when by all accounts you shouldn’t be good at it – that adds another dimension to it,” he said.

Changing thought patterns

One thing Vegas wants to change as a coach is to shed old thought patterns. “Historically, it has been the case that those who are not overly good with the ball in training as children are assigned to be the goalkeepers – this needs to be changed,” he gives an example.

However, he was an exception because he decided to be a goalkeeper himself. But that didn’t mean he was always happy about it. “I liked playing with the ball: I went outside of the goal a lot, acting as if I were a libero,” he recalled but admitted that it was intended more as a joke.

“I generally did it when the team was already safely leading by four or five goals because then the risk was lower. However, as I got older, this desire to score goals started to increase in me, and I became braver,” says the goalkeeper, who eventually “was brave enough” to score 45 goals in his career.

While that number alone is a very impressive feat for the pitcher, in an ideal world, Vegas would have happily scored even more. “I scored many more goals in the first half of my career than in the second. However, there is a very simple reason for this: later, I simply had teammates who were also good in standard situations. But if it were up to me, I would have scored the standards in every team, regardless of who I shared the dressing room with!”

If in this sense Vegas “didn’t do well” because better standard-professionals came by his side. But then again he also did well – he never had to play under a coach who would disapprove of his desire to shoot free kicks and penalties. “I was really lucky with that, because to tell the truth, many of them even encouraged me to do it,” says Vegas in conclusion.

Thanks to this, he is in fourth place in our ranking, although many publications also give him the title of the third most productive goalkeeper in history. But that is the story of our next article…

When goalkeepers score article series:

P.S. If you’re interested in our “When Defenders Score” series, you can check them out here:


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