World Cup’s 101 Most Memorable Moments: Chilavert’s historic free kick

By Doug McIntyre
FOX Sports Soccer Writer

Editor’s note: Each day between now and the kickoff of the first match of the 2022 FIFA World Cup on Nov. 20, we’ll unveil a different memory from World Cup history. The countdown from 101 continues with José Luis Chilavert’s historic free kick.

Keepers are supposed to save goals, not score them.

But nobody told that to José Luis Chilavert, who already had four international strikes to his name by the time he made his World Cup debut in Paraguay’s group stage opener against Bulgaria at France ‘98.

The flamboyant backstop scored frequently on free kicks and penalties for both club and country. But never in the World Cup’s then-15-tournament, 68-year history had a goalie so much as taken a direct free kick. That changed when Chilavert stepped up to a dead ball with Paraguay and Bulgaria deadlocked in Montpellier.

José Luis Chilavert’s free kick: No. 96 | Most Memorable Moments in FIFA World Cup History

Watch the No. 96 most memorable moment in the World Cup, with José Luis Chilavert’s free kick for Paraguay against Bulgaria in the 1998 FIFA World Cup.

He would have scored on it had Zdravko Zdravkov not been able to fingertip Chilavert’s blistering shot over the crossbar just before it settled into the top corner. In a match that ended 0-0, it was as close as either team came to scoring. 

Chilavert nearly converted another free kick — this one from 40 yards — four years later at Korea/Japan 2002. While he never actually found the net at a World Cup, he finished his career with eight goals for his country.

One of the leading soccer journalists in North America, Doug McIntyre has covered United States men’s and women’s national teams at multiple FIFA World Cups. Before joining FOX Sports in 2021, he was a staff writer with ESPN and Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.

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