Iker Casillas may not have been an automatic starter for Real Madrid last season, but his standing as captain and leader of a historic Spain side remains undisputed. An injury to his left hand forced the custodian out of La Roja’s most recent encounters, but coach Vicente del Bosque retains his faith in the 32-year-old, labelling him “a legend of Spanish football”.
It was Del Bosque himself who gave Casillas a first taste of La Liga 14 years ago, thrusting him into action for Real Madrid, where the goalkeeper has been since childhood. Two UEFA Champions League titles, two Intercontinental Cups, a Copa del Rey triumph and five league championships, among others, adorn his glittering trophy cabinet.
A prodigious youngster, Casillas was promoted to the Real Madrid first team in 1999 aged just 17 and a year later he won the Bravo Award as Europe’s best player under the age of 21. In 2002 Casillas was thrown in at the deep end in the Champions League final, coming on as a substitute for his injured team-mate and helping the side to their ninth continental crown.
Casillas is renowned as much for his agility, composure and superb reflexes as he for his humble and likeable character. Alongside his friend and Barcelona rival Xavi, Casillas was given The Prince of Asturias Award for Sport in 2012 for being a role model to youngsters.
He made his bow for La Roja in June 2000 and has since gone on to win more than 140 international caps, spanning the three most recent FIFA World Cups™ and the last four UEFA EUROs. Furthermore, Casillas won the FIFA World Youth Championship Nigeria 1999.
After captaining Spain to the last three major titles, Casillas is intent on adding the FIFA Confederations Cup to his astonishing list of achievements.