Costa Rica in safe hands with 'Falcon' Navas

Costa Rica in safe hands with 'Falcon' Navas
Keylor Navas.

Costa Rica may have little chance of World Cup success but in Keylor Navas, who plays his club football in Spain for Levante, they know that at least their goalkeeper is among the best in the business.

The 27-year-old was even hailed recently as the world's number one by Joaquin Caparros, his coach at Levante at the time, and his performances this season prompted the official La Liga website (www.ligabbva.com) to proclaim him "the league's best" ahead of the likes of Victor Valdes of Barcelona and Atletico Madrid's Thibaut Courtois.

A modest and quietly spoken character with deeply held religious beliefs, Navas does not appear to be letting the praise go to his head and is thrilled to have the chance to take part in what will be his first World Cup finals in Brazil.

"I am very grateful, these kinds of comments motivate me and help me to continue developing," he told Reuters in a telephone interview.

"They help you realise that the work you do is valued and that you have to keep it up."

FIRST CHOICE

Navas spent his first year in Spain playing for second-division side Albacete before Levante came calling but only became first choice keeper at the Valencia-based club following Caparros's appointment before the start of last season.

Caparros left the club at the end of the campaign to become coach of fellow La Liga side Granada CF.

Navas is known above all for his agility, which has earned him the sobriquet "The Falcon of Costa Rica", and attributes his success to hard work and the coaching of Levante's goalkeeping trainer Lluis Llopis. "I consider myself a very secure and calm keeper," Navas told Reuters.

"I am fast and I always try to exploit that. But the most important thing is that I want to learn, I want to improve and every day try to be better in every aspect. "Lluis is super important for us. He is the person who guides us, who keeps us fit, who knows what we have to do during the week so we are at 100 per cent for the matches."

Although Costa Rica have been drawn in Group D with former world champions Uruguay, Italy and England, Navas insists they have a chance of making the knockout round for only the second time after their first ever appearance in Italy in 1990.

"We know that it is a tough group but we want to get through," Navas said. "We will approach everything with a lot of seriousness, with a lot of desire." They are three teams that require a lot of respect but they are nice matches and Costa Ricans like those kinds of games. We will give our all.

"I believe everything is possible. You have to try things, put your heart into it, try to do the best you can and see what is possible. "I think that all the countries that qualify for a World Cup finals deserve respect and if they are there it is because they have won that right."

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