Iker Casillas, velvet-handed guardian in iron gloves

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Iker Casillas announced his retirement on August 4, 2020, at the age of 39. The Spaniard kept the Real Madrid cage for fifteen years, then that of FC Porto from 2015 to 2020. His decisive saves, such as in the 2010 World Cup final against the Netherlands, his exceptional record and his elegance, make him one of the most striking goalkeepers in modern football history.

He is not the greatest football goalkeeper in history, either by size or by talent. But Iker Casillas completed, on August 4, 2020, an immense career, which ranks him among the legends of the round ball.

At 39, the man who has kept the cage for the Spanish national team 167 times has forged a phenomenal record, including a World Cup won in 2010 and two European Nations Championships (2008 and 2012 ).

Early talent

But it was with Real Madrid, the club where he played from 1990 to 2015, that Iker Casillas first distinguished himself. In 1999, shortly after a title of world champion under 20 years with the Spanish juniors, the native of Mostoles is bombarded holder of the first team. At only 18 years old. A fact all the more rare in that among goalkeepers stature and experience are two highly valued characteristics.

But Iker Casillas, who measures “only” 1 meter 82, compensates with impressive reflexes and great maturity. This precocious talent proves it in particular by becoming the youngest goalkeeper and winner in a Champions League final (C1). A match that the Madrilenians won 3-0 against Valencia CF, in 2000.

« San Iker »

In the space of 16 seasons, Iker Casillas played 725 games with Real Madrid and harvested around fifteen major titles, including three C1, five Spanish Championships (Liga), two Copa del Rey, four Spanish Supercup or one Club World Cup.

Always elegant and fair, Casillas has become an icon in his country and his capital. In Spain, it is nicknamed “San Iker”. The protector indeed multiplies the miraculous parades in selection. He is one of the great architects of the incredible triplet Euro 2008-Mondial 2010-Euro 2012 de la Roja. As in the final of the South African World Cup where he intervenes narrowly against the Dutch Arjen Robben. The Madrilenian is logically named by FIFA the best player in his post five years in a row, during this period (from 2008 to 2012).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sS3zDPEwU_U

Messi and Mourinho, his tormentors

But – because there is a but – Iker Casillas gradually sees his euphoria fade away, in the club. Because of FC Barcelona, ​​at first. The Catalans, great rivals of the Castilians, in fact regained the ascendancy on the national scene at the end of the 2000s. Facing Barça, “San Iker” sometimes lives through hell. Like this November 29, 2010 during which the gang of young Lionel Messi won 5-0, at the end of a collective demonstration rarely seen.

On the sidelines, the Madrid coach, José Mourinho, fulminates. The Portuguese is far from admiring and putting on a pedestal the one who arrived at the age of 9, within the “White House”. He further suspects him of confiding locker room secrets to his wife, journalist Sara Carbonero. The technician therefore gradually pushes Iker Casillas to the sidelines, from the 2012-2013 season.

« Remember me as a good person »

Despite the departure of Mourinho the following summer then the arrival of Carlo Ancelotti, Iker Casillas does not find an indisputable starting position or his past luster. His confidence seems, in part, shaken. So much so that the man in the iron gloves sometimes makes more mistakes. After a disastrous 2014 World Cup (elimination in the first round), he copiously insults an Internet user who advised him to throw his baby in the water to see if he was floating …

A season later, Real Madrid, now coached by Rafael Benitez, made the delicate decision to push him towards the exit. During his departure press conference, Iker Casillas lets go, between two sobs: “ Beyond the memory of a great or bad keeper, I just hope that I will be remembered as a good person. »

Refuge then decline at FC Porto

A few weeks later, Iker Casillas found refuge at FC Porto, in neighboring Portugal. With the “Dragons”, he certainly fills his trophy cabinet a little more. But the person concerned is now far from the time of his splendor.

In May 2019, a heart attack during training forced him to stay away from the field for many months. To the point that the doorman is thinking in February 2020 of turning to the presidency of the Spanish Football Federation. He abandoned this project a few weeks later, in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis.

« Without you everything would have made less sense »

This August 4, 2020, it is the game that the Spaniard gave up. ” Today is both one of the most important and the most difficult days in my sporting life : the time to say goodbye has arrived “, He writes on social networks.

On Instagram, Gianluigi Buffon, one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time, paid tribute to his now ex-rival. With a photo and these words: ” They say that competition makes us better than others but not perfect against ourselves. Maybe this futile pursuit of perfection is what made us who we are. Thanks Iker, without you everything would have made less sense. »

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