A dazzling array of football’s biggest names on Tuesday paid tribute to Iker Casillas who announced his retirement from the game.
The 39-year-old Spaniard played more than 700 times in goal for Real Madrid and skippered Spain to their World Cup victory in 2010. He was also part of the Spain team that won European championships either side of the global title.
Real Madrid skipper Sergio Ramos tweeted: “Football thanks you, man. Forever a legend @IkerCasillas.”
Vicente del Bosque, who coached Casillas at Madrid and with Spain, also hailed his efforts of the player nicknamed The Saint.
“Casillas has been a hero of the national team and Spanish football,” he said.
Veteran Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon echoed Ramos and Del Bosque’s praise.
“They say competition makes us better than others but not perfect faced with ourselves. Maybe this futile pursuit of perfection is what made us who we are. #Grac1as Iker, without you, everything would have been less meaningful,” Buffon tweeted.
Casillas lifted five La Liga titles and the Uefa Champions League on three occasions during his 16 seasons at the Santiago Bernabeu before moving to Porto in 2015.
“Today is both one of the most important and most difficult days of my sporting life, the time to say goodbye has arrived,” Casillas said on social media.
“The best goalkeeper in the history of Real Madrid and Spanish football joined us at the age of nine,” Madrid said in a statement
“He was formed here and defended our shirt for 25 years, becoming one of our most emblematic captains of all time.
“Today one of the most important footballers in our 118 years of history calls it a day as a professional player, a player we love and admire, a goalkeeper who has made the Real Madrid legacy bigger with his work and exemplary behaviour both on and off the pitch,”
Casillas’ playing career effectively ended in May 2019 when he collapsed in training in Portugal. He was taken to hospital and underwent heart surgery.
He recovered swiftly and three months later he was placed on Porto’s roster for the 2019/20 Portuguese season. But he did not appear during a campaign that was disrupted due to the coronavirus pandemic.