Iker Casillas' Sad Farewell Highlights Real Madrid Problems

Rik Sharma@@riksharma_Featured ColumnistJuly 13, 2015

Goalkeeper Iker Casillas, right, offers his hand to Real Madrid’s President Florentino Perez before a press conference at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain, Monday July 13, 2015. Casillas appeared with the club’s president a day after he gave an emotional press conference alone putting an end to his 25 years as a Real Madrid goalkeeper. Casillas will now play for FC. Porto. (AP Photo/Paul White)
Paul White/Associated Press

Confusion, sadness and anger. These are the primary three emotions which have greeted Iker Casillas' departure from Real Madrid.

All three manifested themselves on Monday morning, outside the Santiago Bernabeu, when a group of fans turned up to a second farewell for the goalkeeper.

There are two issues here. Firstly, that there even was a second farewell. It was hastily arranged on the day, with president Florentino Perez left reeling by the criticism which flooded in on Sunday.

Casillas had delivered his goodbye speech before the media at Real Madrid's stadium, alone. There was no club representative with him. None of his team-mates.

Oscar del Pozo/Associated Press

Paul White/Associated Press

Compare this to Xavi's farewell at Barcelona, with best friend Andres Iniesta to his left, club president Josep Maria Bartomeu to his right. An audience of squad members and former legends watching on.

Instead, Casillas was left as alone as it has sometimes felt on the pitch in recent years, drowning.

There were tears, as the goalkeeper had to stop his speech to compose himself, for well over a minute. It was painful, but at least it was honest.

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Which is more than can be said for the shambolic display on Monday, when Perez decided to speak up in public support for the goalkeeper for the first time in years.

Casillas' parents had lambasted the president in Spanish newspaper El Mundo, h/t Sport, the day before, saying Casillas "has been vilified for five years, it has all been very unfair and taken its toll on a mental level."

According to the Daily Mail, Perez begged Casillas to appear with him on Monday, desperate to try to whitewash what had been an extremely ugly situation. Pete Jenson wrote:

President Perez is understood to have personally begged Casillas to give in to the offer of a formal send-off in the Santiago Bernabeu and the 34-year-old keeper has agreed to say goodbye to supporters before flying to Portugal to be formally presented as Porto’s new top earner.

The unplanned nature of this second farewell meant that no Madrid players could turn up to it; they were already halfway across the world, heading to Australia on a lucrative pre-season tour.

That in itself is a metaphor for how the club is run these days.

The fans outside were only allowed in 15 minutes before the event started, having kicked up a huge fuss.

They continued to do so, with shouts for Perez to resign, including "Florentino, we want you in the f--king street."

Rubén Uría @rubenuria

Bernabéu, aficionados madridistas: "Iker, Iker, Iker" "Florentino, dimisión". "Ramos no se vende". "Floren, te queremos en la puta calle".

So Casillas, a veteran of more than 700 games and 25 years at the club, five La Liga titles and three Champions Leagues, leaves, not quite through the back door, but not on a red carpet either.

All very unedifying, unpleasant and unsurprising. It leads us to the second issue.

This has happened before under Perez and will happen again, perhaps even with Sergio Ramos or Cristiano Ronaldo.

The likes of Fernando Hierro and Raul are Madrid legends, and like Casillas, they will be remembered both in the club record books and also in the hearts and minds of supporters. But they too suffered at Perez's hand.

There are some things to admire about the way he runs Real Madrid, but many more to dislike.

Paul White/Associated Press

From undignified goodbyes to signing players that fit his business plans better than any tactical strategy, skipping from manager to manager, scapegoat to scapegoat, when the mirror might have the answers he seeks.

Casillas' mother apologised for some of her comments in the wake of her son's move to Porto, but on Perez she said, per Marca:  "A boss should always look out for his employees. I don't want to start talking about it."

Unfortunately, as demonstrated by the nature of this second goodbye, it seems the boss is only looking out for himself.


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