A prince that won everything
On the September 12, 1999, at the mythical San Mamés, home of Athletic Bilbao, Iker Casillas debuted in the main team of Real Madrid. He became the youngest goalkeeper ever to play for the club, aged 18 years and 115 days, starting an extraordinary path of 725 matches. The now blue and white player was linked to the “Merengues” for 25 years, from 1990 to 2015, winning the admiration of not only the fans, but also of enthusiasts of football and fair-play. It wasn’t by chance that he won the Premio Principe de Asturias in 2012, for Sports, considered the biggest distinction in Spanish sports. He has been at FC Porto since July, 2015, and became one of the references of the team.
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The goalkeeper, who has been nominated the best in the world on five occasions, having also won the individual trophies Zamora and Bravo, arrived at Real Madrid aged nine and the path to get to the goal of Santiago Bernabéu was made with effort. After winning the Under-16 European Championship, in 1997, and the Under-20 World Cup, in 1999 (in both cases, thanks to his saves during penalty shootout), Casillas was called to a match for the UEFA Champions League, against Rosenborg, in 1997. He had to wait two full years before his official debut, but, after that, he grabbed his spot in the starting team. The titles won since then are enough to justify a full paragraph: they include three UEFA Champions Leagues, one Club World Cup, two Intercontinental Cups, two European Supercups, five Spanish Leagues, two Copas D’el Rey and four Spanish Supercups.
The path in the Spanish national team, with whom he won the 2010 World Cup (considered the best goalkeeper of that competition) and two European Championships, always as captain, should also be addressed. In fact, his miracle saves in the 2002 World Cup were the reason why he is known in Spain as “Saint Iker”. Casillas is the player with the most caps ever for Spain and he is also the third captain in the history of football, behind Franz Beckenbauer and Didier Deschamps, to raise the trophies of European and World Champion in national teams and the UEFA Champions League.
Casillas is the player in the Portuguese League with the vastest résumé, and the first former World Champion to play for the Dragons. Still, just as, or even more, important than these feats is his fair-play and his desire to help those in need. His fair-play is well-known and it’s not by chance that he was given the Premio Principe de Asturias, together with Xavi, who had a similar path in the rival FC Barcelona. The jury believed both were symbols of friendship, companionship and respect for the opponent. In terms of solidarity, Iker Casillas created his own foundation in 2011, with the goal of taking care of the well-being of children; on the same year, in January, he was appointed UNDP Goodwill Ambassador.