Casillas hails Mourinho phenomenon
Real Madrid captain Iker Casillas hailed coach Jose Mourinho as a "phenomenon" after the Portuguese helped the Spanish giants end their three-year barren spell with victory over bitter rivals Barcelona to win the Copa del Rey.
Cristiano Ronaldo's extra-time header decided Wednesday night's final in Valencia as Madrid won the Copa del Rey for the first time since 1993 and for the 18th time in their history.
It was also Madrid's first piece of silverware since 2008, a period in which great rivals Barcelona have snapped up a remarkable eight titles, and ensured Mourinho's debut season in Spanish football will end with at least one trophy. When asked about his coach, Casillas told Spanish television: "He's a phenomenon."
Casillas' team-mate Sergio Ramos, who accidentally dropped the cup during Madrid's open-top bus celebration in the capital overnight after returning from Valencia - the trophy falling under the front wheel of the bus, added on his club's website: "Mourinho is the captain of this ship and through his philosophy he tries to teach us values which are serving us very well."
Madrid's Copa del Rey success virtually completes Casillas' personal trophy collection, the Spain international having already won four league titles, two Champions Leagues, the FIFA World Cup™, the UEFA European Championships and several other competitions as well.
However, the long-serving custodian was keen to dedicate Wednesday night's victory to the club's supporters, who have had to watch Barca dominate Spanish football in recent years.
"This is for the fans," he said. "We've had it very bad during the last two years, but with effort and dedication we've shown what we can do, that we can beat anybody, and this victory is for all the fans who have come here and for those who remained in Madrid."
The cup may not be Madrid's only success this season either. They are still in the fight for the Primera Division, albeit essentially lying nine points behind Barca with six games to go due to the Catalan side's better head-to-head record, while they are also in the Champions League semi-finals.
In that competition, Mourinho's men also take on Barcelona, with the first leg at the Bernabeu next week - the third of four meetings between the two Spanish giants in 18 days.
Casillas, whose side take on third-placed Valencia at the Mestalla on Saturday, said: "We are going to enjoy this and be happy for the fans. We know that the league is very difficult, but we have to go for it because Madrid always have to fight. Then we have the Champions League semi-finals."