(Madrid) Iker Casillas, legendary goalkeeper of Spain, the world champion in 2010, formalized his retirement on Tuesday at the age of 39, a choice without much surprise after more than a year without playing as a result of 'heart failure.
"Today is both one of the most important and the most difficult days of my sporting life: the time to say goodbye has arrived," wrote the doorman in a statement posted on social networks.
With 25 titles during his career, including the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, two Euros (2008, 2012) and three Champions Leagues (2000, 2002, 2014) with Real Madrid, he embodied the age gold of Spain football.
"Thank you for making the dreams of a whole country come true, Iker", reacted La Roja, who praises in him "the man who raised our star in the sky of Johannesburg" during the World-2010.
A heart attack during training in May 2019 had put a sudden stop to his career, after more than 1000 professional matches, even if he had remained formally a member this season of the squad of FC Porto, winner of the double Cup-Championship in Portugal.
Four years before this heart attack, it was with tears in his eyes that he had left Real Madrid, his club of always, to go to finish his career in Portugal. “Real Madrid demand a lot from you. Every year more, ”he summed up then, fatalistic.
The Madrid club was also quick to react to the announcement of the withdrawal of its former goalkeeper.
“Football says thank you, friend. (You will remain) Always a legend, ”tweeted Sergio Ramos, captain of Merengue, who played for a long time very close to Casillas, in the central defense of Real and the Spanish team.
The Madrid team, for its part, expresses "its gratitude, its admiration, and its love for one of the greatest legends of our club and of world football".
Casillas "has helped to further strengthen the myth and legend of Real Madrid (which) will always be his home," said Florentino Pérez, the president of Real Madrid.
Despite this retirement in virtual anonymity, more than a year after his last professional match, Casillas leaves the stadiums with a nickname that illustrates his place in the history of Spanish football: "San Iker", the club's guardian angel. Madrid and La Roja.
Because for a long time, like Rafael Nadal in tennis, the Gasol brothers in basketball or Fernando Alonso in motorsports, the mythical Madrid goalkeeper had symbolized triumphant Spain, far from the complexes of the past.
He will have been the indebted goalkeeper of the Madrid club for a decade, and that of the Spanish selection during his golden period, establishing a record of selections (167), since exceeded by his former partner Sergio Ramos (170, in progress).
And what more beautiful tribute than that paid by Gianluigi Buffon, who kept the goals of Italy and Juventus, where he still plays at 42, over two decades: “Perhaps this futile search for perfection is what made us what we are. Thank you, Iker, without you everything would have been less meaningful, ”said Buffon.
“You are exemplary in many ways, but the main thing is to be a great person! ! », Reacted for his part the Belgian international Thibaut Courtois, who now keeps the cage of Real Madrid.
His culture of winning, Casillas has for a time considered taking it off the field. In February, he ran for the presidency of the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), before resigning in June because of “the exceptional social, economic and health situation” of the country.
"All the best for you and your family in this new stage that will arise in your life", wished him on his social networks Andrés Iniesta, his teammate with La Roja and rival in the shirt of Barça, today in Kobe in Japan.