Iker Casillas is the greatest goalkeeper to have ever played for Real Madrid, according to new manager Rafael Benitez.
“Iker is a Real Madrid living legend and the best goalkeeper in the club’s history,” Benitez told realmadrid.com.
“We all know how important it has always been. However, he has decided to go to another team and leave. As a coach I have to respect that decision and wish him all the luck in the world.”
“I think he will stay in the heart of all the Madrid fans and I wish him success. I’m sure all will go well at the great club and city of Porto. There’s little more I can say other than that he has my total respect and admiration.”
Casillas is widely regarded as one of the greatest goalkeeper of his generation having played in his first Champions League final as a teenager.
The club recognizing this, had also labelled him their greatest goalkeeper in the announcement that confirmed his exit to FC Porto:
“Today the greatest goalkeeper in the history of the club and in the history of Spanish football is moving on to a new stage in his footballing career”.
“Iker Casillas has made our coat of arms even greater. He has been our captain and has forged his legend here since he arrived as a child at just nine years of age”.
Casillas ended his 25 years stay with his boyhood club to sign for FC Porto, a club he chose because of their “hunger” to succeed . , according to him.
Casillas’ parents had been furious over the exit of their son, accusing president Florentino Perez of starting a campaign against him since 2010.
The manner of exit of Iker Casillas invited criticism from his FC Barcelona counterparts too, with both, Xavi and Iniesta giving statements in support of their Spain colleague and against the treatment meted out to him by Real Madrid.
While it does leave a bad taste in the mouth, the way a legend like Casillas was treated, over time, the fact that he will be universally remembered by Real Madrid as their greatest goalkeeper ever, will soften that hurt.