Rogério Ceni scored his 100th goal for São Paulo , the winner in a 2-1 league victory against Corinthians. Ceni is 37 years old and has played more than 950 matches in his 21-year career, which adds up to a strike-rate of a goal every nine games or so – roughly equivalent to Emile Heskey's record with England. Heskey, of course, did a lot of good work in his own half. But then, so does Ceni, who is by trade a goalkeeper in Brazil's top division, performing his main role well enough to have loitered for some time on the international fringes. It is a stunning achievement: 100 career goals in a one-club career that has seen him also win two World Club Championships and pick up 17 caps for Brazil. The goalscoring keeper may not be an entirely new concept: Jorge Campos and René Higuita achieved novelty-oddity status through similar, albeit reduced feats. Campos scored 38 career goals, a portion of those while playing as a striker. Higuita, another set-piece specialist, scored eight times in 68 matches for Colombia. Ceni's closest rival José Luis Chilavert scored 67 career goals, and was also the first goalkeeper to shoot at goal from a direct free-kick at a World Cup finals, almost scoring against Bulgaria in 1998.
Ceni, however, stands alone among goalkeeping hot shots. Firstly for the sheer weight and quality of his of goals. He is, naturally, the first goalie ever to get to three figures. Plus he seems to score his share of screamers. Just look at that 100th goal: no goalkeeper's punt this, but a sublimely flighted caress of the ball. Finally his goalscoring has gone hand in hand with general solidity elsewhere. Ceni was third choice in the 2002 World Cup-winning squad and in 2005 he was man of the match in the defeat of Liverpool FC in the Club World Cup final. This is an outstandingly versatile set of skills. It would be nice to think we might even see a little more of this kind of thing in the future. Lured by the rule-makers, coaxed by the tactical fluidity of the modern game, the goalkeeper has emerged from his cave in recent times. Distribution has long been a key component of the job description. Counterattacking thrusts, goal-bound free-kicks from the halfway line: these are now goalie territory. Maybe we will see more Cenis emerging in the years to come as tactical fluidity and a general coalescing between rigidly defined roles becomes more the norm. Although, let's face it, perhaps rather more over there than over here. There are many things South Americans do both differently and better in football. Looking on from the outside, the sheer impossibility of a British Ceni ever emerging – bound by obstacles both technical and cultural – is perhaps just another reason to celebrate the brilliance of his achievement.
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