Long-serving Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas finally ended his 25-year association with Los Blancos this summer, signing for Portuguese Liga side FC Porto on a two-year-old. The boyhood Castilian was understandably upset following to be leaving, shedding tears announcing the news at the press conference, but his legacy has become tarnished following a bitter dispute between club and player.
“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,” said his mother Mari Carmen.
Following his exit, Casillas’ representatives also suggested he was forced out of the club, something Real Madrid have always denied. Club president Florentino Perez gave a statement which said the veteran shot-stopper had the option to stay at the Santiago Bernabeu, but the validity of his claims are questionable.
Casillas found himself in and out of the side in the last few years, with mistakes creeping into his game. His exit was expected, but the events that have since followed has been the biggest shock. Real were guilty of eyeing up goalkeepers – mainly Manchester United’s David De Gea – while Casillas was still at the club, and it didn’t go down well with the 34-year-old.
“I’ll be in this goal next season and I do not imagine leaving Real Madrid. I would hold off another goalkeeper because I am competitive. But there will never be a problem between myself and Real Madrid,” he said in May.
Casillas eventually found himself the target of abuse from supporters, and consistently criticised by pundits alike. Many were calling on him to preserve some dignity and leave, and he’s finally heeded their advice. However, comments made from his camp are doing little to get supporters on his side.
A five-time Spanish La Liga winner, boasting three Champions Leagues and a total of 19 trophies to his name, Casillas was an icon of Real Madrid. He was one of the most recognisable names attached to the club, and undoubtedly the best goalkeeper in their history. He should have left the Spanish giants as a legend, but instead has ended terms acrimoniously, with a bitter dispute between the two parties souring the relationship further.
Casillas should have left Real Madrid as a hero and outstanding servant, but now grows bitter at his former club, and words have been exchanged that will surely be regretted in the future. Where does he go from now?