Casillas – The Rise and Fall of a Hero

While there have been great goalkeepers before him and there certainly will be others after him, none could ever catch our attention the way Iker Casillas was able to.

Iker Casillas is a pro footballer of Spanish descent, playing currently for both the Porto club and Spanish national team.

Casillas

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Due to his incredible ability to produce impeccable saves, he was popularly dubbed as “Saint Iker”. Known for his ability to stop all kinds of shots, quick reactions, and athleticism, he was truly the best goalkeeper. In fact, many people considered him to be the goalkeeper of our generation.

In addition, he was also famous for his undeniable loyalism, sticking with Real Madrid ever since 1990, across 16 seasons.

He has played over 1000 matches in professional leagues, winning all the major international and club titles.

With that kind of a portfolio, it is easy to understand how he could be so popular. However, due to the downfall that he has been experiencing since 2014, not that many people know about him nowadays.

Thus, today I would like to remind you of the hero once stood at the very top of the glorious football peak.

Early Years

He was born Iker Casillas Fernández on May 20th, 1981 to José Luis Casillas and María del Carmen Fernández González.

While his father was a civil servant and his mother a hairdresser, the family‘s love for football is immeasurable. This love was then passed on to young Iker, who showcased an incredible talent for the sport.

As a result, he was accepted into the youth system of Real Madrid, La Fabrica, in the ’90-’91 season. Due to his immense potential, young Iker at 16 years of age was called to join the senior team.

On November 27th,1997, he was present, albeit on the bench throughout, in the match against Rosenborg.

After winning the regional group with his C-team, Casillas became the first choice to guard the posts.

He made his official debut with the main team in the ’99-’00 Champion League match against Olympiakos. With this appearance, he also became, at the time, the youngest ever goalkeeper of the competition.

Casillas also made an official debut into La Liga three days earlier in a draw with Athletic Bilbao. He then went on to become the youngest goalkeeper to play and then win in the final of Champion League.

2001-2010: The Golden Years At Real Madrid

Due to some poor performances in the campaign of ’01-’02, he lost his starting position to César Sánchez. However, after Sánchez got injured in the final minutes of the ’02 Final match of Champion League, Casillas redeemed.

With numerous miraculous saves, he denied Bayer Leverkusen their chance at the title and brought a 2-1 for his team.

From then on, his nickname of “Saint Iker” started to gain popularity and along with it, his status raised.

The ’07-’08 campaign was a really fruitful season for Iker, personally, as he helped Real Madrid win the 31st title. In addition, he got for himself the Zamora Trophy due to only conceding 32 goals throughout 36 matches.

On February 14th, 2008, Iker and the team captain Raúl were rewarded with what we call lifetime contracts. He also signed an extension that could automatically extend if he played 30 professional matches in the last season.

In February of 2009, Iker Casillas officially became the most-capped Real Madrid goalkeeper of all times at 27 years old.

While there have been so many clubs expressing their desires to get the goalkeeper’s signature, Iker always proved his loyalty.

In the ’09-’10 campaign, Casillas imprinted again his shadow into the eyes of all football fans with one extraordinary save. Against Sevilla, in a close-range encounter with Diego Perotti, he ran from one side of his goal to another.

With this goal saved, he became the second-most famous Spanish sportsman in 2010 on the Internet.

The Journey with Spain National Team

Casillas started by playing for the under-17 Spain football team. Spain placed third in the 1997 FIFA U-17 title and he was the youngest player in that squad.

He worked his way quickly through the ranks to become the captain of the senior team partly due to incredible club performances.

He got his full debut internationally in the senior team on June 3rd, 2000 against Sweden. Then, he became the substitute after Santiago Cañizares, who had to withdraw due to injury, at the ’02 World Cup.

Thus, at 21, he was among the youngest first-choice goalkeepers of the tournament. True to expectation, he was instrumental in the progression of the Spanish team with his saving two penalties against Ireland.

With this performance, he got called “the Saint” by the Spanish media. This title started sticking with him throughout his career. He then went on to make a save that was considered among the top ten saves of all times.

With Raul’s exclusion from the team for Euro 2008, Iker had to step up and receive the armband of captain.

With the armband, he went on to keep the sheet clean throughout the quarterfinal, semifinal, and even the final matches. Thus, Iker Casillas became the first captain-goalkeeper to win the European Championship trophy with the win over Germany.

In 2008’s October, Casillas and his backup, Pepe Raina, broke his nation’s record of the longest time without conceding goals.

World Cup 2010 and Downfall

On July 11th, 2010, with Casillas as the captain, Spain won their first ever title at the World Cup. With this, he became the third goalkeeper-captain winning World Cup, getting him voted as the best goalkeeper through the tournament.

Due to this historical moment and Casillas’ undeniably vital saves, his fame in Spain rose to an all-time high.

He then went on to become the first ever player to have 100 wins internationally for his nation in 2012.

However, all things will eventually wither in life, so are Casillas’ talents. In the 2014 World Cup, he made several key mistakes that made Spain lose 5-1 to the Netherlands. Then, he made another mistake in the second game leading to Spain’s elimination in the group stage.

From then on, it seems like he has never recovered his incredible instinct yet. However, if you are like me, still believing in the “Saint”, then why don’t we watch his matches at bongdaf, together?

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