Misael Alfaro is a highly valued man in his home country, both in terms of his goalkeeping and set-piece skills. Source: El Salvador Football Association
Misael Alfaro is a highly valued man in his home country, both in terms of his goalkeeping and set-piece skills. Source: El Salvador Football Association

When goalkeepers score: The goalkeeper who started as a striker and became a six-time national champion

Football OlyBet 02.03.2024

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.

10th place – Misael Alfaro (31 goals)

Let’s kick it off with 42-time El Salvador international Misael Alfaro of whom – we’re fairly certain – the lion’s share of football lovers have not heard of before.

This is for three reasons: firstly, he is from Salvador, secondly, he started his football career already in 1988, and thirdly, he spent his entire career – which was 22 (!) seasons long – in his homeland.

Called Misa by his friends, but La Rata by fans, Alfaro’s road to football began in the small coastal town of La Libertad, which is 30 kilometers from the capital, San Salvador.

Won with as many as four different clubs

Although he took his first steps there, he first stepped onto the big stage in the capital, in the ranks of Alianza FC. Initially as a backup goalkeeper, but the injury of compatriot Gasparin Hernandez opened the door for him, after which Alfaro never looked back.

In Alianza, he spent six consecutive seasons (1988-1994), becoming the national champion in the last season. Alfaro then moved on to be a goalie for another homegrown great, CD Luis Angel Firpo, where three gold medals were hung around his neck (1998, 1999 and 2000).

The same thing happened at the next club (Champion 2003 with San Salvador FC) and the next (Champion 2007 with Isidro Metapan).

In short, Alfaro became a kind of travelling trophy in El Salvador, always bringing a championship with him wherever he went. He did this both with his saves and goals, which he scored a total of 31 during his career.

A selection of Alfaro’s saves and goals (penalty kick for example from 1.22):

11 penalties and 20 free kicks

Although there are no overly precise statistics from the El Salvadoran soccer league at the turn of the century, football connoisseurs have gathered that 11 of Alfaro’s 31 hits came from penalties and 20 from free kicks.

Perhaps this balance would have been even higher if a serious neck injury had not put an end to his career in 2010. At the same time, it is worth pointing out that Alfaro was already 39 years old at that moment, so at some point the time would have caught up with him anyway.

If anyone is interested in how Alfaro became such a good free-kick specialist, the key lies in the fact that he worked as a field player until the age of 16. Or more precisely, even as an attacker.

He was made a goalie in the national team

“As a boy, I was assigned to be the goalkeeper only when our main goalkeeper didn’t make it to the game or when the youth coaches specifically asked me to. In general, however, I was either a striker or, if necessary, a central defender,” he told the press about the years in his hometown of La Libertad.

Based on his performances there, Alfaro earned an invitation to El Salvador’s youth team, where everything changed. Namely, the coaching duo Remberto Santillana and Lorenzo Marroquin saw “something” in him, which is why they asked Alfaro to play between the posts instead. And he never left…

“So they saw something in me because when we later played in the qualifying series, against Mexico, Costa Rica and Jamaica, I was already a goalkeeper. And after returning to my home country with the national team, Alianza asked after me precisely as a goalkeeper,” he has recalled the life-changing match.

No regrets about the decision

Although at the top level, Alfaro only competed as a goalkeeper, while playing on the street with his friends – we are still talking about Latin America – he continued to act as a field player. “I liked being more of a striker in those games because as a goalkeeper you were always blamed when you made a mistake. Playing for fun, it just took away all the excitement from it,” he explained.

“The position of goalkeeper is something unique in the world, and if you don’t have the necessary personality and character for it – you have to endure a lot of criticism – then you can fall apart very quickly,” Alfaro has also said and confirmed that if he could start his career again, he would still choose the position of a goalie. “Always a goalkeeper. Salvador’s goalkeeper!”

Meetings with Canada, Guatemala

As we already mentioned El Salvador – Alfaro defended the colors of his homeland 42 times in total, but he did not reach the goal for the A team. Nor have the Salvadorans been to – and still have not – to any major tournament.

Therefore, Alfaro has no big victories to show for with the national team. However, he considers his greatest achievements to be a 0-0 draw with Canada in the 1998 World Cup qualifying series and a 1-0 win over Guatemala in the 2002 World Cup qualifying series.

“We hadn’t beaten them in years by that point and Raul Diaz Acre’s header was what gave us that sweet win. Those were beautiful games,” Alfaro said.

And that duel with Brazil

In 1998, he also managed to play against Brazil, and although the result was not overly positive – the football wizards won 4:0 with goals from Edmundo, Romario and Elber (x2) – this match was also memorable for Alfaro.

“[Their goalkeeper Claudio] Taffarel gave me his shirt after that game: I still hold it with great affection because he is the goalkeeper I looked up to all my career,” Alfaro said.

In addition to Taffarel’s, two more Brazilian garments can be found in his home: they are Romario’s and Rogerio Ceni’s, whom we will also talk about later in this series. But this will be the subject of the articles ahead!

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


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