The following slideshow is for Iker Casillas.
As he wakes up this morning and drinks his café con leche, pondering another weekend spent without La Liga action, he should remember the good times.
Because after all, it shouldn’t be forgotten, nor has it, what an outstanding goalkeeper Casillas has been—and still is—for over a decade now.
What follows is a selection of his finest Real Madrid moments, featuring individual brilliance and team success in Europe’s biggest competitions.
One of Iker Casillas’ crowning individual performances came in a derby away at the Vicente Calderon at the middle of the 2004/05 season.
Real Madrid eventually prevailed over Atletico Madrid 3-0 to keep themselves in the title race—which Barcelona eventually won—but only thanks to two late goals after Casillas had single-handedly kept them in it.
They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, and after a flurry of trophies early on in his Real Madrid career, Iker Casillas experienced a barren spell in the mid-2000s.
However, Los Blancos wrestled the title back in 2007, with San Iker featuring in all 38 of their fixtures.
Iker Casillas will no doubt remember the day: December 12, 1999.
It was the day of his Real Madrid debut. Unfortunately, his side only earned a point on that day, playing out a 2-2 draw with Basque outfit Athletic Bilbao.
Following his Real Madrid debut, trophies weren’t far around the corner for a young Iker Casillas.
Within four years, after at last permanently making the gloves his own, he’d played his part in two successful La Liga campaigns: Real Madrid won the league in 2001 and 2003. However, it was in Europe where he was making more of a mark.
It’s hard to believe at first, but Iker Casillas has only won the Copa del Rey once in his trophy-laden career at the Bernabeu.
Of course, when he did win it, he kept a clean sheet against Real Madrid’s old rivals, Barcelona.
An extra-time goal from Cristiano Ronaldo helped los Blancos, led by Jose Mourinho, to a 1-0 win over la Blaugrana in 2011.
What was that earlier about absence making the heart grow fonder?
Well, it’s been a familiar feeling for Iker Casillas in his career with regards to winning the La Liga title.
After watching a rampant Pep Guardiola-led Barcelona win three championships in a row, Casillas played 37 games as Jose Mourinho’s men eventually wrestled it back to the capital in 2012.
En route to Real Madrid’s 2008 La Liga title, an inspirational performance from a colossal Iker Casillas helped them complete a vital 1-0 win away to Barcelona in December 2007.
Julio Baptista is remembered as the match winner, but it was a day when San Iker was at his finest.
Iker Casillas became the youngest-ever goalkeeper to play in a Champions League final when Real Madrid defeated Valencia 3–0.
The final happened just four days after his nineteenth birthday—what were you doing at the same age?
Trophies are obviously reference points for any player, but it can’t be understated how important saves are to goalkeepers.
And it’s fair to say Iker Casillas has made plenty of top-class saves for Real Madrid.
This stop against Sevilla, though, is widely considered his best in the white shirt of the Bernabeu club. Unfortunately, they still went on to lose the game.
Following his debut in a Champions League final aged just 19, Iker Casillas was back for another taste of Europe’s finest football occasion a few years later—this time on the bench, though.
But while Real Madrid’s win over Bayer Leverkusen is widely remembered for Zinedine Zidane’s goal, Casillas’ 25-minute cameo in the final also played its part.
The young stopper pulled a number of sensational saves from the very top draw.
Champions Leagues have been harder to come by since then, but could 2014 at last spell the end of Iker and Madrid’s wait for the fabled La Decima?