Legendary Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas has bid an emotional farewell to the club after it was confirmed he would be joining Porto this summer.
The Spanish World Cup winner held a press conference on Sunday outlining the reasons for leaving the Spanish capital and was teary-eyed when revealing his time as a Los Blancos star has been a dream come true, per Football Espana:
It only seems like yesterday that I wore the Real Madrid jersey for the first time as a nine-year-old. I saw my dream fulfilled. During this time, I’ve felt very loved and accompanied. This club have also formed me as a person and helped me grow. I’ve always tried to carry their values.
Throughout these years, I’ve experienced unique moments. I leave great friends behind, but I know I can always count on them. I also want to thank all my Coaches. I remember them all because of all the many things that I’ve learned from them.
[I] also [want to thank] the various coaching staff for giving me advice and understanding in bad times and entire club staff, who have been part of Real Madrid. They’re not seen but are always there.
Thank you to my parents and family, who have always been by my side, plus my wife and son.
Thank you Real Madrid for your unconditional support, being your captain for the last five years and being able to lift trophies.
Above all, more so than being remembered as a good or bad goalkeeper, I hope that I’m remembered for being a good person.
Casillas joined Real’s academy as a nine-year old in 1990 and went on to become one of the most decorated players ever to have played the game. For Los Blancos, the goalkeeper lifted a whopping 17 major honours, per BBC Sport.
Despite this, the 34-year-old, who has won a World Cup and two European Championships with Spain, cut a lonely figure during his press conference. Nicholas Rigg of AS compared his farewell to that of Xavi’s earlier this summer:
There certainly seems to have been some ill feeling that has laced Casillas’ departure. Indeed, the player’s mother, Mari Carmen, told Mundo Deportivo (h/t Sky Sports) that the Spaniard has been pushed out of the Santiago Bernabeu by club president Florentino Perez:
Iker has put up with a great deal, he has suffered psychological pressure and they treated him differently to other players.
I have watched him suffer for many years. It is Florentino who is pushing him out because he wanted to end his career at Real Madrid.
Porto is a third-tier team for someone of Iker's stature. A world champion can't end up at Porto. He could have gone wherever he wanted and I wouldn't have cared if it had been Barcelona because they are gentlemen.
If that is indeed the case, it's a peculiar stance from Real. After all, while Casillas is not quite as impeccable between the sticks as he once was, prompting some jeers from sections of the Santiago Bernabeu crowd last season, he has always represented the club with class and a clear affinity for its values.
As noted by WhoScored.com, despite being a little past his prime, Casillas is still one of the best goalkeepers on the continent too:
Madrid’s loss will be to Porto’s immense gain. Not only are the Portuguese giants getting a capable goalkeeper, but they now have a leader and an inspiration among their ranks. For a team that have been looking to step up and join the elite European sides, his influence will be vital.
The manner in which Casillas has left Madrid does leave a sour taste. Granted, it’s hard to know what happened behind the scenes, but in a summer which has seen many legends move on to new chapters in their careers, the Spanish goalkeeper should have been revered by Los Blancos as the great that he was, is and will continue to be in the eyes of many Madridistas.