Madrid – Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas left Real
Madrid on Saturday after 16 seasons as an iconic
figure at the Bernabeu to take on a new challenge
at former European champions Porto.
Casillas, 34, became a hero for both Real and
Spain during a glittering career, where he has
won three Champions Leagues with Real and the
World Cup and two European Championships with
But in recent years he lost some of the sheen that
earned him the nickname “Saint Iker” and last
term was regularly whistled by disgruntled fans at
the Bernabeu as the world’s richest club ended
the campaign without major silverware.
Real’s announcement of their captain’s departure,
which ended days of frenzied speculation in the
Spanish media, came exactly five years since the
Spain captain triumphantly hoisted aloft the
nation’s first World Cup in South Africa after a 1-0
victory over the Netherlands.
The expected arrival at Real of Manchester
United’s David De Gea, the 24-year-old former
Atletico Madrid man who is being groomed to take
over as Spain keeper, will also have contributed
to Casillas’s decision to move on.
Regular playing time in Portugal for Porto,
coached by Spanish ex-keeper Julen Lopetegui,
should allow him to extend his international
career at least until next year’s European
Championship in France.
“Thank you Iker, for everything,” Real said on
their website (www.realmadrid.com). “Thank you
for being a symbol of the best in our history. You
are leaving but we will not forget that you belong
in Real Madrid’s heart forever.”
Casillas made his debut for Real in September
1999, aged 18, and as well as three European
crowns he has also won five La Liga titles, two
King’s Cups and one Club World Cup.
He made 725 appearances for Real, second only
to former striker Raul, and was named the
world’s best keeper five times by the
International Federation of Football History and
“For Real Madrid today is a day, above all, of
appreciation and recognition,” Real said.
“Today, the best goalkeeper in the history of Real
Madrid and in the history of Spanish football is
leaving the team and beginning a new stage in his
Casillas will hold a farewell news conference on
Sunday (12:00 SA time) at the Bernabeu.
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