In 1993, Jorge Campos was awarded third place in the selection of the best goalkeeper in the world. Source: Wikimedia Commons / Revista Soccermania de Editorial Televisa
In 1993, Jorge Campos was awarded third place in the selection of the best goalkeeper in the world. Source: Wikimedia Commons / Revista Soccermania de Editorial Televisa

When goalkeepers score: The goalkeeper who started as a striker, also shone brightly between the posts

Football OlyBet 11.05.2024

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. 

3rd place – Jorge Campos (46 goals)

The main hero of our story today, the now 57-year-old Jorge Campo, is not listed in the most productive goalkeepers’ charts. That’s because, during his career, he also acted as a striker for some time and scored goals during that time. But we don’t let that get in the way of a good story.

Jorge Campos Navarrete was born in the Mexican coastal city of Acapulco, known above all for its golden beaches. Campos also spent time on the beaches when younger, occasionally having fun on the waves. He liked surfing but was even more fascinated by football.

Campos started his career in his hometown, but when he came of age, he moved on to the capital, Mexico City, to wear the jersey of Club Universidad Nacional, the big club there. Since Adolfo Rios, the first captain of the Mexican national team, also played for Pumas – as the fans call the club – at that time, young Campos was nailed to the bench, which was not to his liking.

Could get play time as a striker?

So, the youngster who was skilful in his ball handling went to the coach and proposed that perhaps he could earn playing time as a striker. As unbelievable as it may sound, he was not sent off for that and he managed to earn the first minutes in the 1988/89 season. But no one expected what lay ahead.

The following year, Campos – who continued to be listed as the club’s goalkeeper, for which he also trained daily – was entrusted to the starting line-up as a striker. The result? In all series, 52 games and 22 hits. That made him the club’s top scorer.

Although one would expect that the Mexican would be told to throw his gloves in the corner and continue to earn his keep as a center forward, but with the departure of the legendary Rios, the position of the front captain opened at Pumas: which Campos also took. So, de facto, his goalkeeper’s career only started in the 1990/91 season.

Shone in the home league and the national team

This start was not bad either, because, in the very first year, he helped Pumas become the national champion. There were situations where, after losing in the first half, Campos was sent to the field as a forward in the second half. In the following five seasons, Campos scored a total of 18 goals for Pumas.

In the same year that he became the foremost goalie of Pumas, Campos was also entrusted with the gloves in the Mexican national team – where the journey to stardom was even more significant. Namely, thanks to his excellent saves, Mexico managed to sail to the final of the 1993 Copa America, where they eventually lost 1:2 to Argentina.

A month later, Campos also shone at the North and Central American Championship, or Gold Cup, where they reached the finals and met their northern neighbor, the USA. As the World Cup final tournament in the United States was knocking on the door, the Gold Cup final was like a dress rehearsal: the Americans were interested in how to handle the broadcasts and what comes with it.

It was well received, as the telecast reached millions of homes across the United States, where Campos’ amazing saves, colorful shirt and fancy moves were everywhere. In a word: people fell in love with him!

Performance at the World Cup and third in the world

At the 1994 World Cup, this love continued to grow as Mexico won their group against Ireland, Italy and Norway. In the round of 16 against Bulgaria, they were on fire as well, taking the match to a penalty shoot-out, where Campos saved the first shot. Unfortunately for him, however, three of his teammates missed their shots, which is why Mexico still fell out of the competition.

Due to his good performances, Campos was chosen as the third-best goalkeeper in the world at that time, ahead of him were only the Dane Peter Schmeichel and the Argentinian Sergio Goycochea.

“It was a special moment for me because I didn’t have the ‘right’ qualities to automatically be a good goalkeeper. Nowadays, there are hardly any goalkeepers who can’t play with their feet. But I laid the foundation for all of this,” said Campos, who was chosen as the best goalkeeper of the Mexican Premier League for five years in a row.

By 1996, he had already become such a star that he was invited by Nike to do a commercial with (super)stars – Eric Cantona, Paolo Maldini, Patrick Kluivert, Luis Figo, etc. – in which good football players eradicated evil demons from the world.

Realizing that he had become a phenomenon in his own right, Campos decided to take advantage of it and moved to play in the US Major League i.e. the MLS. For the first two years, he wore the shirt of the Los Angeles Galaxy, then the Chicago Fire. With the latter, he was also crowned the national cup winner.

Under the leadership of Campos, who became a superstar, Mexico also optimistically faced the 1998 World Cup, where, however, they were limited to the round of 16. It was Germany, who shut them out of the competition with a 2-1 win.

To a certain extent, they were comforted by the Confederations Cup, a tournament of world continents held a year later, where the Mexicans sailed to the finals and defeated Ze Roberto, Emerson, Flavio Conceicao, Dida, and Brazil – among with young Ronaldinho – 4:3.

Europe remained out of reach

At the same time, however, Campos had returned to his homeland, where he once again pulled on Pumas’ shirt. He scored six goals in the season, but success didn’t follow. Realising that his career was coming to a quiet end, Campos then wandered about a bit more, wearing the shirts of Tigres, Atlante and Puebla in the last few seasons, until he called it quits in 2004.

Given his stardom, it is a little surprising that Campos never made it to Europe during his career. However, there was a simple reason for this. “Moving to Europe was not possible because the price tag set for me by the Mexican clubs was just so high,” the goalkeeper himself regretted.

However, he got a little taste of the top football at the “Rest of the World” show matches, where he shared both the dressing room and the field with real superstars. “But since we all spoke different languages, we didn’t know how to communicate with each other, nor did the coach with us,” he added with a smile.

Oh yeah, those shirts!

Although in a way, Campos did reach Europe as well as everywhere else in the world, because the shirts he wore were familiar to ALL football fans. They were just so colorful and they were designed by Campos himself.

He got the inspiration for this from the beaches of his hometown, Acapulco. “When I became a professional player and could no longer surf, I thought that I had to bring the same vibe and style that I saw from the shore to the field. To do this, I decided to use colors,” Campos explained.

“My friend owned a clothing company in Acapulco and that’s how it all started. I asked him for some designs at first, which I then changed as I saw fit. The kids loved it all. They didn’t care if I played well or badly. At first, I didn’t think of it as some big marketing trick, but for me, it was just an imitation.”

168 cm as an opportunity, not an obstacle

In a way, Campos needed this imitation, because being only 168 centimeters tall, he was not exactly the most “intimidating” goalkeeper for attackers. At the same time, he was just so good at making his strengths – speed and understanding of the game – work for him.

“Being a striker also helped me as a goalkeeper because it gave me a better understanding of what my opponents could do. It allowed me to choose positions and set myself up to be able to cover certain angles faster,” he explained.

“The more you come out of the goal, the smaller you make the goal for the striker. According to some coaches, I took too many risks, but you can say that it worked quite well for me,” Campos has no regrets.

To conclude things – a fun fact. Although Campos was well-known throughout the country in Mexico, people occasionally got confused when they saw him on the street. “I’ve often been approached and told, ‘You look like Jorge Campos, but he’s much, much taller and stronger. I usually replied: “Yes, and uglier too!”. But when I opened my mouth, they understood that it was still me.”

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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