Little did the nine-year-old son of a civil servant and a hairdresser know as he entered Real Madrid’s youth system in 1990 that, 25 year on, he would leave the Los Merengues first team as the club’s second-highest all-time appearance maker, winner of five La Liga titles and three UEFA Champions League careers spread over a glorious 16-year career in the first team. Add to his club achievements the fact that he captained arguably the greatest international side ever, winning two UEFA European Championships and one FIFA World Cup, and the countless individual awards he received thanks to his gravity-defying saves and unearthly reflexes, and you have a footballer who can rightfully be considered one of the greats of the game in his position, and a benchmark for success at the biggest club in world football.
Join us as we take a look back at the stunning career of Real Madrid and Spain legend Iker Casillas.
1990: Joins La Fabrica, Real Madrid’s youth system
1997, May: Won the European Under-16 Championship with Spain.
1997, November: Called up by senior team manager Jupp Heynckes to the squad for the UEFA Champions League to play Rosenborg. Aged 16.
1999, April: Part of the Spanish team that won the FIFA World Youth Championship
1999, September 12: Made his first-team debut in a 2-2 away draw against Athletic Bilbao, becoming the youngest-ever first team goalkeeper in the club’s history.
2000, January 19: Made his debut in the Spanish King’s Cup, or Copa del Rey, in a goalless draw away at Real Zaragoza.
2000, May 24: Became the youngest-ever goalkeeper to play in a UEFA Champions League final, as Madrid beat Valencia 3-0.
2000, July 3: Made his national team debut in a friendly against Sweden.
2001: Won his first La Liga title, playing 34 games.
2002, May: Won his second UEFA Champions League title, coming off the bench to make several key saves in a 2-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen in Glasgow.
2002, June: First-choice goalkeeper for the FIFA World Cup, Casillas saved two penalties in the Round-of-16 shootout against the Republic of Ireland
2003: Won his second La Liga title, playing all 38 games.
2007: Won his third La Liga title.
2008: Won a fourth La Liga title.
2008: As captain of the national team, Casillas lifted the UEFA Euro 2008 trophy after a 1-0 win over Germany in the final in Vienna, becoming the first captain to lift a major trophy for Spain since 1964. He was voted in the team of the tournament.
2010: Lifted the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the first in Spain’s history, after beating Holland 1-0 in the final. Made a series of excellent and important saves, especially against Arjen Robben in the final. Won the FIFA World Cup Golden Glove as best goalkeeper.
2011, April: Won his first Copa del Rey title, beating Barcelona 1-0 in the final.
2011, November 12: Became Spain’s all-time highest appearance maker, making his 127th appearance in a friendly against Costa Rica.
2012: Missed only one league game as Real Madrid won La Liga, for his fifth league title.
2012: Captained Spain to success in UEFA Euro 2012, beating Italy 4-0 in the final.
2014: Won his second Copa del Rey as Madrid beat Barcelona 2-1.
2014: Won his third UEFA Champions League trophy, as Madrid secured the coveted La Decima. Atletico Madrid were beaten 4-1 in the final. During the campaign, Casillas broke the record for most clean sheets in the competition’s history.
2015, July 2015: Secured a transfer to FC Porto on a two-year deal, bringing an end to a glorious association with Real Madrid.
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The most passionate fan of Zinedine Zidane; life revolves around football, movies, The Catcher in the Rye, Led Zeppelin, and a degree in Economics and Finance at The University of Hong Kong. Perpetually stuck in a moral quandary created by my belief in The Dude’s abiding words: “Yeah, well, you know, that’s just like your opinion, man,” the issue being that I enjoy writing 4,000-word essays on football littered with grossly unchecked injections of opinionated judgments.