Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas celebrated 20 seasons as a Champions League player this Tuesday with Porto against Schalke 04.
We haven’t given enough writing time to a true legend of the game from the past 20 years, FC Porto goalkeeper Iker Casillas who turned 20 years as a Champions League player this Tuesday. The former Real Madrid player had the opportunity to stop playing professional football altogether when he left Los Blancos, but he always felt like he could still play at a great level like his friend Gianluigi Buffon has done during these past years and he decided to agree to an offer made by FC Porto from Portugal. The first match of the season was the Dragons against German club Schalke 04, one that would mean something truly historic for Iker if he was picked to play it. Right after the first whistle was given, Iker became the player with the most seasons playing the competition after surpassing Ryan Giggs on the feat, the Welshman had done it through 19 straight seasons and now Casillas had 20 under his belt. The only two active players who are behind Iker Casillas on this record are two, Bayern Munchen’s Arjen Robben with 16 seasons playing the competition, and Juventus’ Cristiano Ronaldo who has 15 by now. Both of these players are set to shorten their distance with the 34-year-old this Wednesday.
Record! Three-time winner Iker Casillas becomes the first player in history to play in 20 #UCL campaigns ?
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) September 18, 2018
Casillas’ romance with this competition goes all the way back to the times when he was just 16 years of age, as the player was getting his first-ever call-up for the competition in which he would play his first minutes two seasons later. Due to an injury from Santiago Cañizares, Iker was given the opportunity in 1999 at the age of 18 during a match between Real Madrid and Olympiacos. That game was a fond memory for Iker Casillas because Los Blancos won the competition and he never stopped playing for his beloved club until Jose Mourinho arrived in the institution, Iker would reach his first final and play it only days after he turned 19. The lad got to be a part of the squad that won the eighth European Cup in Real Madrid’s history and he also got to win another two of those with a starring role in all of them. Iker went on to become a true legend os Spanish football during the 2000’s decade, one that didn’t bring him that many trophies with Real Madrid but did give him the satisfaction of getting many honors as the goalkeeper for Spain on the international stage. People don’t talk about that save he made against the Netherlands at the World Cup final in 2010, but the trophy is just as much his responsibility as it was Andres Iniesta’s who scored the winning goal.
— Iker Casillas (@IkerCasillas) September 12, 2018
Casillas’ biggest problem at Real Madrid: Jose Mourinho.
The drama for Iker Casillas at Real Madrid started thanks to a gesture the Los Blancos skipper had towards many FC Barcelona players, one that Jose Mourinho’s didn’t like because he wanted to keep the rivalry as crisp as possible and Iker didn’t have the same philosophy. The Portuguese manager also blamed the Spanish goalkeeper of leaking inside information to the press about his lineups, something that was never proved but was more than enough reason for the Portuguese manager to leave Casillas on the bench for a long time. An unfortunate injury during a clash with Alvaro Arbeloa and these problems with Jose Mourinho, were what brought Iker Casillas to live a more secondary role with Real Madrid in both La Liga and the Champions League. But the Portuguese manager was sacked and Iker got his revenge with football under Carlos Ancelotti, it took him only one year and a decisive final against Atletico Madrid in Lisbon to give him the satisfaction of finally lifting a Champions League trophy as the skipper. The image of Iker celebrating this achievement was liberating for a lot of people, but his relationship with many fans and a part of the Spanish press didn’t allow Casillas to finish his career as he should have with Real Madrid. But those bad moments for Iker didn’t keep him from going after this record, one that will be hard to reach by other football players.
? @IkerCasillas cumple 20 temporadas en Champions. ¡Eres el jugador que más partidos llevas en la máxima competición continental! ¡Y los que te quedan! Felicidades, San Iker ? https://t.co/tHQYFQ4v2w pic.twitter.com/ZWJ3OAj0W3
— MARCA (@marca) September 18, 2018
In what phrase would you describe Iker Casillas’ career in the Champions League? Please share your opinion in the comment section down below.