Iker Casillas Has Reached the End of the Line with Real Madrid

Rik Sharma@@riksharma_Featured ColumnistFebruary 13, 2014

Iker Casillas should wave goodbye.
Iker Casillas should wave goodbye.Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

A Spanish player, who loved his club and was adored by the fans, but left because he was not featuring regularly.

No, this isn't another story about Juan Mata.

Instead, we're talking about his compatriot, Iker Casillas, who finds himself in a similar position to the Manchester United playmaker. Come the summer, the situation may repeat itself.

Jose Mourinho, incidentally, played a key role in both players being sidelined.

He was the man that ditched Madrid legend Casillas for first Adan and then Diego Lopez.

And, at Chelsea, Mata was left behind Willian, Eden Hazard and Oscar when it came to picking the support for Mourinho's striker.

Jose Mourinho saw something we didn't.
Jose Mourinho saw something we didn't.Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

But even though some suspected there was more to the Casillas dropping than merely form—Sid Lowe noted in the Guardian that the goalkeeper and Sergio Ramos were unhappy about Mourinho's ultra-defensive tactics—Carlo Ancelotti is still sticking with Lopez in La Liga.

There's no reason for him not to, because the 32-year-old Spaniard, re-signed from Sevilla, has been in fine fettle.

The cup competitions are Casillas's domain now; he has featured in all six of the Champions League games and all eight Copa del Rey clashes.

His clean sheet against Atletico Madrid on Tuesday night helped him secure a Copa del Rey record of not conceding all the way to the final, according to Marca.

In the tournament's history of over 100 years, only on two other occasions have teams reached the last game without letting in a goal—Barcelona (starting from the semi-final stage in 1912) and Athletic Bilbao (starting in the final in 1916).

Casillas and Madrid, on the other hand, have played two-legged ties against Olympic de Xativa, Osasuna, Espanyol and Atletico Madrid.

Cup king: Casillas has not been used in La Liga.
Cup king: Casillas has not been used in La Liga.Denis Doyle/Getty Images

The goalkeeper has also extended his streak of unbeaten games against Madrid's rivals Atletico to 26 matches and, as per Marca, was delighted with his achievement.

"That record makes me happy. The derby is always a special game, particularly for us local lads, and going so long without losing against Atletico is a great feeling," he said.

Casillas has always been good with words and managing his media appearance, perhaps too good—it was claimed in some quarters that he was a dressing-room mole—something which Sky Sports reported him denying.

He even spoke out in a statesmanlike fashion, to support Atletico fans, claiming that their reputation had been tarnished by just one idiot who threw a lighter at Cristiano Ronaldo.

"There is always someone that tries to smear the image of a club like Atletico Madrid and it doesn't reflect how the majority of their fans are,” Casillas told Real Madrid’s official website. "I think the consequences could be serious, because it could have hurt a player."

He seems to have taken his exile on the chin, for now at least, saying he will think about next season "at some point", as reported by Marca.

Sorry: Carlo Ancelotti apologised.
Sorry: Carlo Ancelotti apologised.Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Casillas also had the good grace to accept Ancelotti's apology after the Italian's daughter's comments about him and Lopez.

She had asked in a Vanity Fair interview, sourced by Sport, why people cared about Casillas and not the man who has taken his place.

But after the Real Madrid manager asked for Casillas's forgiveness, the goalkeeper said, as reported by Marca: "I don't know Ancelotti's daughter. We are adults. I've spoken to the gaffer and the matter is settled. When someone apologises to you, the right thing to do is accept that."

But Casillas is proud. He is a champion. His honours list is frightening.

Five La Ligas, two Champions Leagues, a World Cup, two European Championshipsand that's just the tip of the iceberg.

The bench is no place for a legend like this. At 32 years old, he has plenty of gas in the tank.

After his treatment under Mourinho there were rumours that he was going to join Arsenal, but he stayed to try and earn his place in the team.

It hasn't happened, it didn't work. It's time for him to try his hands elsewhere.

And there’ll be plenty of takers.


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