It’s getting unReal for Iker Casillas…
The 34-year-old Spanish international goalkeeper has reached an accord with Real Madrid, with which he still had two years left on his contract, to leave the club where he has played for 25 years, 16 of them on the first team, and move on to Porto.
Casillas started with Real Madrid when he was only nine, and passed through all the lower categories of the club until joining the first team in 1999.
Real Madrid made its goodbye to its longtime goalkeeper official, marking the end of some complex negotiations. Once Porto’s interest and Casillas’ willingness to leave Real Madrid were known, the negotiations went back and forth between an almost definitive agreement and their final breakdown, basically over financial matters.
“For Real Madrid today is a day, above all, of thanks and recognition. One of the best goalkeepers in this club is not just leaving, today the greatest goalkeeper in the history of the club and in the history of Spanish football is moving on to a new stage in his footballing career,” says the note made public by Real Madrid.
“This goodbye evokes thousands of sensations and memories charged with hope, anticipation, sacrifice, strength and unique triumph. Iker Casillas has made our coat of arms even greater. He has been our captain and has forged his legend here since he arrived as a child at just nine years of age,” recalls the message posted on its Web site.
Real Madrid notes that “our club is 113 years old and Casillas has worn our jersey for 25 of those years. During that time he has become one of our finest leaders and has won the respect, affection, admiration and love of the fans beyond colors and affiliations.”
Real Madrid describes Casillas’ time with the club as “an honor and pride of the Madridistas. Iker is leaving, but his legacy is here forever. His attitude and actions in the 725 games he played in our jersey shine a light on the path for those who dream of being part of this team,” and gives thanks for the years he stayed on the squad.
“Thank you Iker, for everything you have done. Thank you for being a symbol of the best in our history. You are going but we will never forget that you’ll always belong to the heart of Real Madrid,” concludes the message of praise for a player who debuted in the First Division as a starting player on Sept. 12, 1999, in San Mames against Athletic Club Bilbao.
Now, at 34, after a little “pushing and shoving” with the club over the two years remaining on his contract, and being the player with the second-most official matches played in Real Madrid’s history (725, just 16 less than Raul Gonzalez), he has reached an agreement to leave the team.
He leaves behind, among many other achievements, three Champion’s League titles, two European Super Cups, five La Liga championships, two Copas del Rey and four Spanish Super Cups.
Casillas was also captain of the Spanish team in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, and in the Eurocopas of 2008 and 2012.