I was 10 years old when I first saw René Higuita’s scorpion save vs. England. The highlight was indelibly burned into my brain from 12 inches away on a Sunday morning, watching Wide World of Sports on a chair I positioned ludicrously close to the TV so I wouldn’t wake my mum in our small, one-bedroom apartment.
It’s the kind of sports moment that you’re sure was fixed. A save so ludicrous that it had to have come from a charity game where the stakes were meaningless and a good show was more important than the outcome-- but it wasn’t. While the game was a friendly between England and Colombia, at the time that game meant a lot. England had beaten Colombia and eliminated them from the 1994 World Cup, which made that ‘95 game in Wembley Stadium a chance to exact a small measure of revenge.
Higuita’s scorpion is so memorable that I didn’t need to embed it at the top of this page. You already knew exactly what I was talking about when you read the headline. It’s a save that routinely is placed in the Top 10 greatest sporting moments of all time, and for good reason. It happened 21 years ago today, and still feels like yesterday.
Over the years a great many people have tried doing the scorpion, to varying degrees of success.
Keylor Navas’ recreation.
The Real Madrid keeper did his version of the scorpion as an homage to Higuita, and honestly it might be better. The only key difference is that he doesn’t clear the ball nearly as far, but his athleticism makes this a good one.
Itumeleng Khune's attempt in South Africa.
This one-legged attempt doesn’t quite have the same flair as Higuita — but he did it in a game, and that counts for something.
This small British child, Tom.
Tom just went for it. He deserves all of our praise for giving it a go, even if this wasn’t executed perfectly.
This scorpion kick own goal.
It’s hard to know what Nigerian defender Festus Baise thought he was doing in the Hong Kong First Division, but this has to be the saddest scorpion of them all.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s scorpion kick goal.
This isn’t really like Higuita’s, but any list of scorpion kicks would be remiss without this one. It’s so iconic you can do it in FIFA, and even then it’s so hard to pull off there are dozens of tutorial videos online.
Here’s to you, René Higuita. Your incredible save all those years ago continues to mystify us and inspire others.