All You Need To Know About Legendary Goalkeeper Jose Luis Chilavert’s International Career
Jose Luis Chilavert was voted World Goalkeeper of the Year by the IFFHS in 1995, 1997, and 1998. He was sent off alongside Faustino Asprilla in the qualifiers, in which Asprilla had to convince a hitman to not murder Chilavert afterwards.
Chilavert 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. 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.
Chilavert had made boasts about being the Cup’s best goalkeeper before the tournament, and after the tournament, FIFA indeed named Chilavert on the tournament All-Star Squad for his performances, alongside French goalkeeper Fabien Barthez.
Chilavert refused to take part in the 1999 Copa América, angering the Paraguayan government, as he claimed funding should be used for education.
FIFA gave Chilavert a four-game suspension (later reduced to three) for spitting on Brazil’s Roberto Carlos at the conclusion of a 2002 FIFA World Cup qualification game. As a result, he watched Paraguay’s first game of the 2002 World Cup against South Africa from the stands.
Chilavert accused Roberto Carlos of racism and of making obscene gestures during the match. 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”. 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.
Before the 2002 FIFA World Cup, Paraguay manager Cesare Maldini had faced criticism in Paraguay, but Chilavert defended Maldini for his experience. He also expressed great confidence in the ability of the Paraguayan team and downplayed his role on the team.
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. Before the match, Chilavert had vowed to score against Spain if Paraguay got a free kick “within range”. 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 after Chilavert failed to grip the ball and allowed it to slip between his legs into the goal.
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. In their second-round match against Germany, despite several saves from Chilavert, Paraguay lost 1–0, courtesy of a late Oliver Neuville goal.
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.