The next offering in my all-time ‘cult’ footballers borders on the bizarre more than alternative. A colourful character, renowned for both stopping and scoring goals, he mesmerised us all with his wacky kits, silky skills and death defying acrobatic abilities. A miniature goalkeeper-cum-striker who succeeded at the highest level of international and domestic football and will go down in history for his breathtaking and eye-catching contributions. It is none other than the acrobatic, goalscoring, Bermuda short wearing, ‘El Brody’ from Acapulco; Jorge Francisco Campos Navarrete.
When someone mentions a goalscoring goalkeeper, most football intellectuals would instantly suggest José Luis Chilavert or Rogério Ceni; but in my opinion they could never back up their goalscoring records with world-class abilities between the sticks. Jorge demonstrated that ‘dynamite always comes in small packages’ as this diminutive fellow stood at a modest 5ft 6inches, only a few inches taller than my Grandma. Without a doubt he was the smallest goalkeeper ever to grace the football field. I will never forget his goal saving heroics in numerous World Cup’s and Copa America tournaments. His petite presence seemed to fool even the smartest of penalty takers into thinking Jorge had been replaced by a member of the under 12 youth team and the goal had grown to the size of Mexico. Unfortunately for them, his acrobatic ability defied the laws of the universe.
A regular risk taker, Campos considered himself an outfield player every bit as much as a goalkeeper. He regularly played as a striker, especially in his early club days at Club Universidad Nacional A.C (Pumas), where he scored an impressive 35 goals in 199 appearances. Due to limited opportunities in goal for the Pumas, he moved to Club de Fútbol Atlante where he finally achieved the role as first choice goalkeeper. He joined Los Angeles Galaxy in 1996 before playing for numerous clubs both north and south of the border.
Upon retiring, Jorge had amassed 38 goals in his career, although none came for Mexico where he gained 129 caps for ‘El Tricolor’. He was renowned for his choice of self designed attire and would regularly blind opposition strikers with his vivid selection of colours. Being ‘one-on-one’ with Campos required a health warning, particularly for players with a susceptibility to epileptic fits and former acid users. I suppose he was wholly responsible for some of the most shocking kit designs from the 1990’s. Being an avid surfer and self-appointed ‘cool dude’, he was notorious for customising a pair of Bermuda shorts with badges to compliment his garish outfits. Here are some of the worst World Cup kits, with Jorge sitting proudly at number 4 (Number 1 is hilarious by the way)…
A manager’s delight due to his flexibility, he would normally wear an outfield kit beneath his goalkeeping attire for desperate circumstances where he would be required to play as a striker. He often found himself playing in the ‘libero’ role regularly taking on the opposition during forays into midfield. You could envisage him as a key player for the unbeatable cartoon team ‘The Hurricanes’ where every footballer appeared to have some obscure trait or bizarre talent, always to the detriment of rival manager Stavros Garkos.
I believe that his flexibility and commitment to entertain was atypical of football in the late 80’s and 90’s and something I doubt will ever return. Can you imagine Paul Robinson or Robert Green doing a ‘Campos’? They can barely goalkeep, let alone play football. I’m sure you will agree that Jorge was both an enigma and a cult legend, well worth his place in my all-time ‘cult’ world XI.
Here are some videos for your delectation, although take heed and turn the sound off…