Iker Casillas says FC Porto’s “hunger” persuaded him to end his 25-year love affair with Real Madrid and move to the Portuguese club.
The emblematic captain and goalkeeper of the Spanish giants was meeting the media on Sunday less than 24 hours after announcing his transfer to Porto.
The 34-year-old leaves a club with which he grew up, joining Real’s youth academy aged nine in 1990 and winning 19 trophies during his 16 seasons as a professional.
Giving his reasons for the rupture an emotional Casillas said: “The decision to leave for Porto is due to two fundamental reasons.
“The first is the hunger displayed by the president (Jorge Nuno Pinto da Costa), the sporting director Antero (Henrique) and the manager Julen Lopetegui, and above all the rest of the team.
“The second is the many signs of affection I’ve received as people have learnt that my future is in Portugal.
“They’ve won me over, and I’m very happy, very content.”
He added: “I will do everything possible to not let them down, and I will fight to my maximum to win the greatest number of titles possible with my new team.”
Real announced the departure of their favourite son in a brief statement on Saturday night, without specifying the amount of the deal.
“Real Madrid and FC Porto have agreed the transfer of Iker Casillas to the Portuguese club.”
According to Spanish media he has moved on a two year deal worth in total to the player 10 million euros ($11.2 million).
Elaborating on the enormity of his career switch Casillas told Sunday’s press conference: “After 25 years defending the shirt of the biggest club in the world there’s come the difficult day to say goodbye to an institution that has evidently given me everything.
“I arrived here when I was nine-years-old, put on the white shirt and it was a dream come true,” recalled the player who has won 19 titles with Real, including three Champions Leagues and five La Liga crowns.
Real Madrid were responsible for “my development more than anyone, they helped me to mature, instilling in me their values of respect. camaraderie, commitment and above all humility.
“I’ll never be able to forget you, and you can be certain that wherever I go I will continue to shout ‘Hala Madrid’,” he said, alone on the podium, without a Real director in sight.
Casillas moves on despite repeating over the past few months that he wanted to see out his career at the Santiago-Bernabeu where he had a contract until 2017.
He had been consigned to the bench in 2012-2013 by the then manager Jose Mourinho, and was accused of being “a mole” after revealing dressing rooms secrets to the media.
He returned to the side after the Portuguese left for Chelsea, winning the Champions League for a third time in 2014.
In 2010 Casillas made front pages worldwide in a photograph of him raising the World Cup in South Africa after leading Spain to the title for the first time.
But last summer the image was of a dejected Casillas on his knees as a rout by the Netherlands helped dump Spain out of the World Cup in Brazil.
Real are reportedly interested in recruiting Manchester United’s 24-year-old Spanish goalkeeper David de Gea in a bid to rejuvenate after finishing second in La Liga last season behind Barcelona, who also won the Champions League title.
Porto meanwhile, coached by former Real Madrid and Spain goalkeeper Julen Lopetegui, will compete in next season’s Champions League after finishing runners-up to Benfica in the 2014-15 Portuguese season.
Lopetugui already has six Spaniards in his squad and both his assistant coaches are Spanish.