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FIFA Club World Cup

Birthday boy Navas gets the perfect gift

Keylor Navas of Real Madrid gives instructions
© Getty Images

No one likes working on their birthday, least of all when the landmark in question is a new decade, an occasion that deserves to be celebrated in style. As Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas revealed, however, he was only too happy to roll up his sleeves and go to work when he turned 30 on Thursday.

“I’m delighted,” said the Costa Rican custodian as he responded to the fans wishing him many happy returns at the International Stadium Yokohama. “What better present could I get from my team-mates than winning this game?”

Real Madrid’s 2-0 defeat of Club America of Mexico gave them a place in the final of the FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2016, to the delight of the smiling birthday boy: “It was a great way to celebrate,” he said.

The Tico keeper did not have too much work to do over the 90 minutes. The America forwards had difficulty in making their way into the opposition area and were unable to test Navas to the full. That said, Zinedine Zidane’s men were made to work hard by the Mexicans and only took the lead in stoppage time at the end of the first half. A second goal came in added time at the end of the second, continuing their recent habit of scoring late.

“It was a tough match and we had to work hard because they didn’t leave us much space,” said Navas. “We were patient, though. We kept our shape and came away with the win.”

The keeper is appearing at his third Club World Cup, the first having come with Deportivo Saprissa in 2005, when they finished third and he stayed on the bench throughout the competition. It was the same story at Morocco 2014, where he was on the Real Madrid bench, understudying for Iker Casillas in a tournament that his side won. Now wearing the No1 jersey, Navas is only too happy to be getting some game time at Japan 2016 and to have fulfilled his dream of playing in such a special competition.

“I’m happy because it’s a privilege to play for this club and I hope I can come away with an even bigger present: the title of world champions,” said the ambitious Navas as he made his way to the hotel, with his arm around team-mates Marcelo and James Rodriguez, who no doubt had a little surprise in store for him.

Feliz celebrar mi cumpleaños con una victoria, pasando a la final del Mundial de Clubes. Gracias a Dios por la vida.

— Keylor Navas (@NavasKeylor) December 15, 2016

"So happy to be celebrating my birthday with a win and at getting through to the final of the Club World Cup. Thank you God for life."

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