José Luis Chilavert

"Chilavert" redirects here. For other uses, see Chilavert (disambiguation).
José Luis Chilavert

Chilavert in 1985, while playing for
Argentine side San Lorenzo.
Personal information
Full name José Luis Félix Chilavert González
Date of birth (1965-07-27) 27 July 1965
Place of birth Luque, Paraguay
Height 1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)
Playing position Goalkeeper
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1982–1984 Sportivo Luqueño 67 (4)
1984–1985 Guaraní 19 (1)
1985–1988 San Lorenzo 122 (0)
1988–1991 Real Zaragoza 79 (1)
1991–2001 Vélez Sarsfield 270 (36)
2000–2003 Strasbourg 50 (0)
2003 Peñarol 15 (4)
2003–2004 Vélez Sarsfield 0 (0)
Total 622 (46)
National team
1989–2003 Paraguay 74 (8)

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

This name uses Spanish naming customs: the first or paternal family name is Chilavert and the second or maternal family name is González.

José Luis Félix Chilavert González (Spanish pronunciation: [xoseˈlwis tʃilaˈβert ɣonˈsales]; born 27 July 1965) is a Paraguayan former footballer who played as a goalkeeper for Sportivo Luqueño, Guaraní, San Lorenzo de Almagro, Real Zaragoza, Vélez Sarsfield, RC Strasbourg, Peñarol, and the Paraguay national football team.

Chilavert won 12 club titles, including the 1994 Copa Libertadores and the 1994 Intercontinental Cup, while playing for Vélez Sarsfield, and is a three-time IFFHS World's Best Goalkeeper award winner. Outside of his goalkeeping position, Chilavert was also known for his skills as a free kick specialist,[1] and often took penalties.[2] He scored 67 goals in his professional career, many of them crucial, including eight in international matches. Four of his international goals were scored during Paraguay's qualification for the 2002 FIFA World Cup. Chilavert is the second-highest goalscoring goalkeeper of all time, surpassed only by Brazilian keeper Rogerio Ceni, and is the only goalkeeper to score a hat-trick.[3] Chilavert was also known for his eccentricity and his fiery temper, which brought him his fair share of controversies; most notorious among them was his being sent off in 1997 for brawling with Colombian striker Faustino Asprilla.[4] He was nicknamed "El Buldog" ("The Bulldog")[5][6] and often wore a cartoon bulldog on his goalkeeper jersey.[7]

Chilavert appeared for the Paraguay national football team 74 times from 1989 to 2003, scoring 8 goals and representing the team at five major tournaments. Chilavert appeared for Paraguay at two FIFA World Cup tournaments (1998 and 2002), where he served as captain on both occasions, and appeared in three Copa América tournaments (1991, 1993, and 1997). Chilavert was also included in the 1998 FIFA World Cup Team of the Tournament.

Early years

Chilavert grew up in Luque, Gran Asunción,[8] in a poor family, and walked barefoot until the age of seven.[9] His parents are Catalino Chilavert, who was a state bureaucrat, and Nicolasa González. When he was five, he had three siblings and two responsibilities: to milk the cows and to sell the milk in the neighborhood of Ñu Guazú, a rural suburb of Luque.[10] One of his siblings, Rolando Chilavert is also a football player.

Club career

Chilavert made his debut as a football player with the team Sportivo Luqueño. He was trained by Modesto Sandoval. In 1989, he played for the Paraguayan national team for the first time.

He later moved to Spain, where he played for Real Zaragoza. In 1988, whilst Chilavert played for Real Zaragoza, he stated that "the fans used to freak out" when he would come out with the ball at his feet and "scream at me to get back in goal. I've never stopped to think about what others are saying. I just rely on my abilities. Later on, I started to practice penalties and free kicks until they gave me the job for real".[9] Chilavert admitted to staying behind after training to practice 80 to 120 free kicks, which in his opinion was how he got better.[1]

[9] After his time at Real Zaragoza, he moved to Argentina, where he played with Vélez Sársfield, helping them win the Primera División four times, as well as the Copa Libertadores and the Intercontinental Cup, both in 1994. In 1999, he became the first goalkeeper known to score a hat-trick in the history of professional football, while playing for Vélez against Ferro Carril Oeste, scoring all three goals through penalties.[11] He also scored a free kick from behind the half-way line against River Plate.[12]

Whilst at Strasbourg, Chilavert played in the 2001 Coupe de France Final, in which his team beat Amiens SC on penalties, and Chilavert scored the winning penalty in the shootout.[13]

International career

Chilavert was voted World Goalkeeper of the Year by the IFFHS in 1995, 1997, and 1998. He scored in the 1998 World Cup qualification campaign. He participated in the 1998 World Cup, where he became the first goalkeeper ever to take a direct free kick in the World Cup finals, almost scoring against Bulgaria.[14] With two clean sheets in the first round, he helped take Paraguay to the round of sixteen, where the team lost to France on a golden goal scored by Laurent Blanc.[15] Chilavert had made boasts about being the Cup's best goalkeeper before the tournament,[16] and after the tournament, FIFA indeed named Chilavert on the tournament All-Star Squad for his performances, alongside French goalkeeper Fabien Barthez.[17][18]

Chilavert refused to take part in the 1999 Copa América, angering the Paraguayan government, as he claimed funding should be used for education.[19]

After a 2002 FIFA World Cup qualification game, he spat on Brazil's Roberto Carlos, an action which caused FIFA to give him a four-match suspension (later reduced to three) which forced him to watch the first game, against South Africa, of the 2002 World Cup from the stands.[16] Chilavert accused Roberto Carlos of racism and of making obscene gestures during the match.[12] Chilavert later claimed that Roberto Carlos came up to him after the match and said "Indian, we have won 2–0, you are a disaster".[20] He also justified his action by saying he had been provoked by the Brazilians, who had called him the weakest link of Paraguay before the match, and also claimed the match was like a war and that Brazil should return land to Paraguay lost in the War of the Triple Alliance in the 19th century.[20]

Before the 2002 FIFA World Cup, Paraguay manager Cesare Maldini had faced criticism in Paraguay, but Chilavert defended Maldini for his experience.[21] He also expressed great confidence in the ability of the Paraguayan team and downplayed his role on the team.[22] During the World Cup, Chilavert made an error against Spain on Morientes's 2–1 goal as Paraguay lost 3–1. Chilavert almost redeemed himself later with a good free kick attempt, but the shot was saved by Casillas.[23] Before the match, Chilavert had vowed to score against Spain if Paraguay got a free kick "within range".[24] Before the last match in the group stage, Paraguay had to beat Slovenia and Spain had to beat South Africa, with a combined margin of three goals, for Paraguay to go through to the last 16. The match started badly for Paraguay, with Carlos Paredes sent off in the 21st minute, and continued with Milenko Ačimovič taking the lead for the Slovenians right before half-time. But Paraguay – inspired by substitutes Nelson Cuevas and Jorge Campos – recovered to defeat Slovenia 3–1, scoring three times in the last 25 minutes, and when Spain also defeated South Africa 3–2, that victory meant that Paraguay was through to the next round, where they would play Germany.[25][26] In their second-round match against Germany, despite several saves from Chilavert, Paraguay lost 1–0, courtesy of a late Oliver Neuville goal.[12][27]

In total, Chilavert earned 74 international caps for Paraguay and achieved a goalkeeper record of eight international goals. He retired from international football in 2003.[28]

Retirement and post-career

Chilavert in 2014, during an interview aired by La TV Pública of Argentina.

Chilavert announced his retirement from football in December 2003, but decided to come out of retirement to return to Vélez. Chilavert had just won the Uruguayan league with Peñarol when he initially retired. He finally retired permanently in 2004, playing his last match, a farewell testimonial, on November 11 of that year – fittingly, he scored a goal.[29]

In 2005, Chilavert received a suspended six-month prison sentence in France for the use of false documents related to the compensation for the end of his contract with Strasbourg.[30]

Chilavert was a commentator for American television network Univision during the 2006 FIFA World Cup and 2010 FIFA World Cup, alongside Jorge Pérez-Navarro. Chilavert vowed that if he had gone to the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, he would have tried again to become the first goalkeeper to score a goal.[9]

Personal life and personality

Chilavert is married to Marcela, an English language teacher he met in Buenos Aires while playing for San Lorenzo de Almagro. In 1998, they had a daughter named Anahí.[31]


Chilavert has allegedly thrown punches at Faustino Asprilla and Diego Maradona.[32]

He once received a suspended prison sentence for attacking a physiotherapist.[1]

Chilavert was a guest commentator for Univision during the Copa América Centenario but was removed from the broadcasts after CONMEBOL President Alejandro Dominguez told the network to remove Chilavert. Chilavert had criticized Dominguez and called him corrupt on the air during Paraguay's Group A match against Colombia.[33][34]

Leadership and morality

Prior to the 1998 FIFA World Cup, when he was asked if he was feeling the pressure, he replied: "Pressure? This is just a football match. When you do not know how to feed your children, that is pressure."[35]

Chilavert defended Cesare Maldini from the members of the Paraguayan press who criticized Maldini when he was appointed as Paraguay's coach for the 2002 FIFA World Cup. Chilavert stated that "About 90% of sports journalists in Paraguay are incompetent" and welcomed criticism following Paraguay's performance in Korea and Japan if they were to perform poorly.[36]

During his career, Chilavert was being touted as Paraguay's future president.[32] Chilavert was labelled "a revolutionary the kind of which South America has not seen since the days of Che Guevara."[32]

Off the field, Chilavert refused to participate at the 1999 Copa América, held in Paraguay, complaining bitterly about the incompetence of the local directors. Despite being officially honored by the government, he said that his country should invest money in education rather than football.[35][37] Chilavert also routinely dismissed his country's politicians as corrupt, incompetent, and responsible for keeping many Paraguayans in poverty. His solution, not surprisingly, was himself. Chilavert claimed that when his playing days are over, he would stand for president and enforce his own brand of law and order.[37]


"Not everyone can be a goalkeeper you know. People think we're only there to stop goals, but that's an entirely mistaken and negative view. To my mind you can't have a good team without a good keeper. Brazil had a fantastic side in 1982 but they also had Valdir Peres in goal. Every time the opposition went forward they scored, which rather proves my point."[38]

"So Navarro Montoya has compared me to a Fiat 600? Well, I might be a 'Fitito' but I've got the engine of a Formula 1 car. As for his engine, it's losing oil. He's no match for me. We're not at the same level." – Chilavert on Carlos Fernando Navarro Montoya, Boca Juniors' legendary keeper during the 1990s.[38]

"They can say whatever they want. They've never won anything." – Chilavert on journalists, a pet subject of his during the 1990s.[38]

"I'm not that bothered about Bonano's goal. Anyway, he hit it really badly, like a wet newspaper." – Chilavert on River Plate goalkeeper Roberto Bonano, who converted a penalty against him in the 2000 Copa Mercosur.[38]

"There's a big difference between being a winner and being mediocre. Winners think only about victory when they take on a challenge. Mediocre people just think about avoiding failure." – Chilavert on what makes special players tick.[38]

"You can't have friends on the pitch. You can't allow anyone to take what's yours. That's football." – Chilavert on the modern game.[38]

"People don't understand it and they think you're just playing rough. Out on the pitch though you have to go in hard to avoid injuring yourself. It might sound bad but if I had to choose, I'd rather my opponent got injured than me." – Chilavert on the physical side of football.[38]

"It's a shame we can't fight each other, but he doesn't make the weight category. Wet through, he only weighs 35 kilos." – Chilavert on Uruguayan striker Sebastian Abreu after the two clashed in 1995.[38]

"Nobody had heard of us when we arrived in France. They couldn't even place Paraguay on the map. The whole world knew about us after the tournament though." – Chilavert on the legacy of Paraguay's achievements at the 1998 FIFA World Cup France.[38]

"Right now good goalkeepers are going the same way as the dinosaurs. They're an endangered species." – Chilavert on his fellow custodian, speaking earlier this year.[38]

"I never had any superstitions. They're just excuses for the weak." – Chilavert on lucky charms and routines.[38]

"I never prepare what I'm going to say although I do have a good line for you right now. Football's full of jealous people but that doesn't bother me: jealousy is the price you pay for success." – Chilavert on his way with words.[38]

"I don't know what a Chilavert would be worth at today's prices, but I'm sure it'd be a lot of money. There aren't many keepers who can go forward and score goals." – Chilavert on his potential market value today.[38]

"I've had a lot of fights on the pitch, but what did people expect? With the face I've got I have to play the bad guy. It's a lot easier that way. Being the good guy just isn't me." – Chilavert, speaking earlier this year, on playing the villain during his career.[38]

Career statistics

Club performance League Cup Other[nb 1] Continental[nb 2] Total
Season Club League Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Paraguay League Cup League Cup South America Total
1982Sportivo LuqueñoPrimera División300300
1984GuaraníPrimera División191191
Argentina League Cup League Cup South America Total
1985San LorenzoPrimera División100100
Spain League Copa del Rey Copa de la Liga Europe Total
1988–89Real ZaragozaLa Liga37020390
Argentina League Cup Intercontinental South America Total
1991–92Vélez SarsfieldPrimera División2210220
France League Coupe de France Coupe de la Ligue Europe Total
2000–01StrasbourgDivision 11705100221
2001–02Division 2330404020430
2002–03Division 100000000
Uruguay League Cup League Cup South America Total
2003PeñarolPrimera División152400154
Argentina League Cup League Cup South America Total
2003–04Vélez SarsfieldPrimera División006060
Total Paraguay 86530895
Argentina 3923630741246948
Spain 7917040901
France 500914020651
Uruguay 15400154
Career total 6224616170831272859

1Includes four 1993 Copa Libertadores playoff (liguilla) matches.

2Includes one Championship Playoff match.

Sources: [39][40][41][42][43][44]

International goals

Chilavert – goals for Paraguay
# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1. 27 August 1989 Estadio Defensores del Chaco, Asunción, Paraguay  Colombia 2–1 2–1 1990 World Cup qualifier
2. 15 August 1993 Estadio Defensores del Chaco, Asunción, Paraguay  Peru 2–0 2–1 1994 World Cup qualifier
3. 1 September 1996 Estadio Monumental, Buenos Aires, Argentina  Argentina 1–1 1–1 1998 World Cup qualifier
4. 17 June 1997 Estadio Félix Capriles, Cochabamba, Bolivia  Argentina 0–1 1–1 1997 Copa América
5. 7 October 2000 Estadio El Campín, Bogotá, Colombia  Colombia 0–2 0–2 2002 World Cup qualifier
6. 15 November 2000 Estadio Defensores del Chaco, Asunción, Paraguay  Peru 5–1 5–1 2002 World Cup qualifier
7. 5 September 2001 Estadio Defensores del Chaco, Asunción, Paraguay  Bolivia 3–1 5–1 2002 World Cup qualifier
8. 7 October 2001 Estadio Defensores del Chaco, Asunción, Paraguay  Argentina 1–0 2–2 2002 World Cup qualifier

Source: [45]

Paraguay national team


Vélez Sársfield




  1. Includes 1994 Intercontinental Cup (1 match) and 1996 Copa Interamericana (2 matches).
  2. Includes 1995 Recopa Sudamericana (1 match) and 1997 Recopa Sudamericana (1 match, 1 goal).


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  46. FIFA XI´s Matches - Full Info Archived 17 November 2015 at the Wayback Machine.
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