What is he doing here? Goal named Costa Rica hero Keylor Navas in our Liga Team of the Season back in May, and it raised eyebrows among our readers, particularly given the brilliance of Atletico Madrid's Thibaut Courtois. But the hero of his country's World Cup campaign was there on merit - and he has backed up his astounding performances for Levante by being one of the unlikely stars of Brazil 2014, which has helped him secure a likely move to Real Madrid.
Great goalkeepers from Central America don't exactly roll off the tongue, it's true, but Navas is an excellent exponent of his trade - a man who has bided his time to make a name for himself in La Liga and who kept out some of the finest strikers in the world as part of Costa Rica's run to the quarter-finals. England and Italy couldn't get past him, while it took a spot-kick from Uruguay to deny him a perfect group-stage record.
Against Greece, a 91st-minute goal took the match to extra-time, then penalties - and Navas came to the fore. With the score locked at 3-3, he threw himself high to his right to block Theofanis Gekas' kick. Umana slotted home the winner. Netherlands may have eliminated Navas' Costa Rica side, but even then only via a shoot out after a scoreless draw.
It's a story of patience. The 27-year-old started his career with all-conquering Costa Rican club Saprissa, winning a host of national titles and also the Concacaf Champions League, which saw him appear in the Fifa Club World Cup as well. Later, in 2009, he was named Best Goalkeeper in the Gold Cup. He earned a move to Albacete the following year, where he played in Spain's second and third tiers.
Levante's scouts were watching, though, and signed Navas in 2011, initially on loan and then on a permanent transfer. The Costa Rican was forced to wait in the wings and spent his first two seasons as back-up to Gustavo Munua, only stepping up to the No. 1 position after the Uruguayan left to join Fiorentina last summer and subsequently returned to his homeland with Nacional.
The wait was worthwhile. In 2013-14, Navas was in spectacular form for Levante and kept 15 clean sheets for the Valencia-based side in La Liga. Agile, athletic and boasting remarkable reflexes, he has caught the eye of a number of top teams this term, among them Atletico, who will likely need a new goalkeeper with Courtois set to return to Chelsea.
"In key moments, Keylor Navas helped us," Levante boss Joaquin Caparros beamed. "To beat quality opponents you have to be intense, show maximum efficiency and have a good goalkeeper."
They had one, and their loss will be Madrid's gain.
Before the World Cup Spanish tennis player Pablo Andujar smashed balls at the Costa Rican with his racquet from the egde of the box on a visit to the club he has supported since childhood. Few found the net and the Davis Cup player could only watch in admiration at how his 160 kilometre-per-hour drives were repelled by the shot-stopper.
"I play in a very competitive league and every Sunday I come up against some of the best players in the world, so I stopped being nervous about facing big-name players a long time ago," Navas told Fifa in an interview published recently. "I feel quite relaxed. For me it’s a great challenge to play against the best."
With Navas in this form, Madrid have been wise to match his €10 million release clause and appear to have secured themselves a bargain signing of the highest calibre.