Iker Casillas Introduction
Iker Casillas Fernández was born 20 May 1981 in Madrid. He is a well-known Spanish professional footballer who plays the position of a goalkeeper for Portuguese club Porto and the Spain national team. He is regarded as one of the best goalkeepers of all time for his spectacular saves. As a youth, he started playing for Real Madrid in 1990. After he got promoted to the senior team in 1999, he stayed with the club for 16 seasons, later serving as club captain. During the tenure of his golden time in Madrid, he won five La Liga titles, two Copa del Reytitles, four Supercopa de España titles, three UEFA Champions League titles, two UEFA Super Cups, one Intercontinental Cup and also the prestigious FIFA Club World Cup. He also made 725 appearances for Real Madrid, one of the most popular football clubs in the world, before departing in 2015 to join Porto on a free transfer. Casillas captured a Primeira Liga and Supertaça Cândido de Oliveira title in Portugal.
Casillas has made a record of playing 167 times for the Spanish national team, and has been an international player since June 2000. He is the joint sixth-most capped male footballer in history, and the joint second-most capped European player of all time. He was considered as the nation’s first-choice goalkeeper at the 2002 FIFA World Cup and he was also a prominent goalkeeper at UEFA Euro 2004 and the 2006 World Cup. In 2008, he became the captain of the team, and led the team to that year’s European Championship. He was also the captain of Spain when the team won their first World Cup in 2010, and retained the European Championship in 2012. In the year 2014, Casillas became one of the four players to represent Spain at four World Cups.
In 2008, Iker Casillas had been nominated for the Ballon d’Or award, ranking fourth overall. In the year 2012, he was voted into the UEFA Team of the Year and he created a record of winning the award for sixth consecutive time. Casillas has the record for most appearances by a goalkeeper in the FIFPro World XI. Alongside, he also holds the record as the maximum appearances holder in the UEFA Champions League. He also has also over 1,000 professional matches to his credit, and has won all major club and international championship titles and owing to this he was eligible with Real Madrid and Spain.
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During the 1990-91 season, Casillas’s career began in Real Madrid’s youth system, known as La Fábrica. On 27 November 1997, when he was still a junior, he got his first call from the senior team squad to face Rosenborg in the UEFA Champions League, even though he remained on the bench throughout. He spent an entire season with the C-team in the fourth tier, and finally he came into contention as the club’s first-choice between the posts. Since then, he did not have to look back in his career. He proved his spectacular goalkeeping skills in all the tournaments which he played and earned fame and reputation. He became the youngest ever goalkeeper to play in and win a Champions League final when Real Madrid defeated Valencia 3–0 in May 2000. In 2001-02 La Liga campaign, Casillas’s performance had been poor and he lost his place in the side to backup Cesar Sanchez. However, Sanchez had to return owing to an injury in the final minutes of the 2002 Champions League final. Casillas came back and showcased outstanding saving skills, leading Real Madrid to a 2-1 win. The 2007-08 season went good for Casillas and he helped Real Madrid to reclaim their 31st La Liga title. He won the Zamora trophy that season conceding only 32 goals in 36 matches. In February 2009, Casillas reached Paco Buyo’s record of 454 matches played for a goalkeeper and also became Real Madrid’s most capped goalkeeper of all time at the age of 27 years old only. During the 2010-11 season, Casillas was selected as the first captain of Real Madrid along with new vice captains Sergio Ramos, Marcelo and Gonzalo Higuaín. Next year he won the IFFHS Best Goalkeeper award and he is the only goalkeeper in the history of football so far to have won such prestigious award four times in a row. On 2 May 2012, Casillas successfully won his fifth La Liga title and his first as a captain of Real Madrid, with a 3–0 win in Bilbao. Again in 2012-13, he won the IFFHS Best Goalkeeper award for the fifth time in a row. On 24th May 2014, under his captaincy, Real Madrid won the 2014 Champions League Final. Following this win, he became club’s first choice goalkeeper for 2014-15 season.
At an international level, Casillas debuted for Spain at the under-17 level. At the age of 16 years only, he was the youngest player in the Spanish squad that placed third at the 1997 FIFA U-17 World Championship in Egypt. Later on, he became the captain of the U17s. Two years later, he won the FIFA World Youth Championship and the UEFA–CAF Meridian Cup that same year. Casillas made his full international debut at the senior level on 3rd June 2000 against Sweden when he was only 19 years old. At the age of 21, he was one of the youngest first choice goalkeepers for the 2002 FIFA World Cup. One of his saves during the quarter-final against South Korea during the 2002 World Cup had been so amazing that it was rated by FIFA as one of the top ten saves of all time. During the Euro 2004 qualifying matches, he played in all eight Group six fixtures and conceded just four goals. He was made the captain for 2008 Euro Cup squad. On 29 June 2008, Casillas successfully became the first goalkeeper-captain to lift the UEFA European Championship trophy as Spain beat Germany in the final. In October 2008, Casillas along with back-up Pepe Reina broke the national record for the longest time spent without conceding a goal. He also bagged the third place in the best goalkeepers of all time ranking, beating Oliver Kahn. During the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup in South Africa, Casillas was Spain’s starting goalkeeper and he made four appearances as Spain finished the tournament in third place. On 5 September 2009, Spain won 5–0 against Belgium in a qualifying match for the World Cup. In that match, Casillas played fabulously and equalled Andoni Zubizarreta’s national record of 56 clean sheets, and in the later matches, he broke many other records of Zubizarreta. On 11 July 2010, Casillas captained Spain and the team won their first ever world cup title with a 1–0 win against the Netherlands. In that tournament, he was voted the tournament’s best goalkeeper and received the Golden Glove award.
Controversies of Iker Casillas
All famous players face controversies in the course of their career. Casillas was no exception. During the 2009 summer transfer window, some rumours were spread that Casillas is going to leave Real Madrid and join Manchester City as they had launched a record bid of 129 million pound for the goalkeeper. However, Casillas himself has clarified that he has no intention of leaving his boyhood club. On 22nd Decemeber 2012, the Portuguese coach Jose Mourinho dropped Casillas for a Liga match against Málaga in favour of Antonio Adán. This led to a series of bitter arguments between the two and some of them had been allegedly aired to the press by Casillas himself. Recently in May, he had a heart attack during a practice session at Porto. Speculations had been there that he would retire after this incident. However, Iker Casillas is a man of strength. He dismissed the media news and declared that his retirement time has not come yet.
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He is considered as one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time by both former and current goalkeeping colleague. Casillas had been given the nickname “San Iker” (“Saint Iker”) throughout his career, for his noteworthy performances as a youngster, and due to his ability to produce acrobatic and decisive saves. He is calm and well balanced and possess amazing penalty-saving abilities. Even though he has a reserved character, he has been highly regarded for his calm composure under pressure, strong personality, ability to organise his defence, and leadership from the back throughout his career. He had been described by Gianluigi Buffon as the best goalkeeper of his era with his hands.
A gifted talent in his youth, Casillas has gained praise for his longevity and consistency at the top level; Even though he has occasionally been criticised by experts for his limited skills with the ball at his feet in comparison to other Spanish goalkeepers, Casillas’s balanced distribution with both his hands and feet has generally been reliable throughout his career. He is capable enough to send the ball into deep areas of the pitch with his long throws and kicks with his left foot.
He is an epitome of victory, perseverance and glory with a net worth of 40 million dollars. He is the goalkeeper and captain for both the Spanish National team and FC Porto. He is married to Sara Carbonero since 2016 and is blessed with two sons. He recently had a heart attack and the whole football world is concerned about his health. We wish him a speedy recovery and hope that in the near future, we will get to see a lot of spectacular tournaments under his captaincy.