07 Aug Life is all about getting again up
Whether or not you embrace the biblical model (Proverbs 24:16) or the Rocky Balboa variation, the idea is identical. Life hits you laborious and infrequently. And it isn’t concerning the falling down, it is concerning the getting again up.
There are various methods to have fun the profession of Iker Casillas, who retired Tuesday aged 39, some 21 seasons after making his top-flight debut for Actual Madrid at 18. The goalkeeper captained Spain to their first ever World Cup and received two European Championships and 167 caps alongside the best way. He received 5 league titles, two Copas del Rey and three Champions League crowns for Actual Madrid. Just one man has made extra appearances for the membership in its illustrious historical past.
– Stream Football4cast FC Day by day on Football4cast+ (U.S. solely)
– Champions League, Europa League schedule
Casillas and Xavi, who first bonded on the 1999 World Youth Championship in Nigeria, will without end be bear in mind for having the humility to bridge the often-vicious sporting, political and cultural divide between Madrid and Barcelona at national-team degree, a break up that had lengthy brought on La Roja to massively underachieve, thereby placing collectively maybe the best interval of worldwide dominance by any footballing nation.
Fantastic causes, all. However what stands out to me, what makes Casillas considerably completely different is that he is been a portrait of resilience all through, taking greater than his fair proportion of licks and every time bouncing again.
Casillas isn’t the one one to have overcome adversity, again and again, after all. However few have had his type of journey, one the place you begin on the very high, with greatness thrust upon you. Certainly, the truth that he arguably peaked a decade in the past and had the rockiest stretch of his profession in his early 30s, when most keepers are presupposed to be on the top of their powers, makes him all of the extra compelling.
Casillas wins the beginning keeper job at Actual Madrid within the 1999-2000 season and begins for them within the Champions League closing later that season, 4 days after his 18th birthday. Ten days later, he will get his first cap for Spain. A yr later, he wins his first Liga title.
At 20, Casillas is the goalkeeper of the primary iteration of the Galacticos, with Luis Figo, Raul and Zinedine Zidane. The launch angle to his profession is sort of vertical at that time and but, within the second half of the 2001-02 season, the wheels come off. He has some poor performances, struggles in the best way younger keepers are wont to do and is dropped within the spring. Out of the blue, he’s too small. Too younger. Too connected to the membership colours to be cool below stress.
He’s, as typical, on the bench for the 2001-02 Champions League closing in Glasgow, watching Actual Madrid take a 2-1 lead over Bayer Leverkusen because of Zidane’s epic long-range surprise objective. After which, with 22 minutes to go, Cesar Sanchez, who had supplanted him as Madrid’s No. 1, falls laborious on the Hampden turf and indicators for a change. Casillas comes on and makes a string of stops, two of them spectacular kick-saves, to protect the victory. A number of months later he’s once more Madrid’s beginning keeper, a job he would retain for the subsequent decade.
Casillas had been metaphorically kicked within the intestine. And he had gotten again up when it counted most.
There is likely to be a parallel universe by which Cesar does not get harm, Casillas does not come on, Actual Madrid nonetheless win the cup and he stays a backup who then leaves the Bernabeu, annoyed on the lack of alternatives. Destiny reopened that door for him in that closing, however he was able to step by way of it. That is the factor about getting again up; typically you want a fortunate break to have the ability to do it, nevertheless it’s nonetheless as much as you to be prepared when the second comes.
Quick-forward 10 years. It is the 2012-13 season, Jose Mourinho is in cost and the rivalry with Barcelona is as toxic as ever. So too is the ambiance at Actual Madrid. Mourinho suspects there is a rat within the dressing room, airing the membership’s soiled laundry. Because the membership struggles, threatening to implode, followers are break up between Mourinho-backers and Mourinho-haters. Casillas turns into a scapegoat, blamed for being the dressing room mole. He is dropped for backup Antonio Adan, and to strengthen the purpose, Mourinho buys one other keeper, Diego Lopez, midway by way of the season.
Formally, Lopez arrives due to an harm to Casillas’ hand, however he retains the beginning job even after Casillas regains full health. The writing is on the wall. Casillas’ morale is at a low ebb.
Even though Mourinho leaves at the end of the season, Casillas knows Lopez is an exceptional keeper. So too does Carlo Ancelotti, the man who replaces Mourinho. Casillas makes too much money and wields too much power for a backup. President Florentino Perez wants to bury the nightmarish final season under Mourinho and purge the venom still in the club’s system. There’s a World Cup title to defend the following summer, too; Casillas knows he can’t do it as a reserve and seriously considers moving on. But he doesn’t. He stays to compete for the starting job and again, he’s rewarded with a helping hand. Ancelotti opts to split the job. Lopez plays in La Liga, Casillas gets the Copa del Rey and the Champions League. Real Madrid go on to win both competitions and he starts every game along the way.
And just as Casillas is back up again, lifting Madrid’s 10th European Cup in Milan, there’s another kick in the groin less than three weeks later. Spain get humiliated 5-1 by the Dutch in the World Cup opener, a rematch of the 2010 final. Casillas makes at least two massive errors. All he can do is admit his fault and say it was the worst game of his career … which it probably was.
Once again, he’s down. His international career is in doubt with the emergence of Manchester United’s David De Gea and, at club level, he has to deal with both Lopez and the newly arrived Keylor Navas.
Julien Laurens says Cristiano Ronaldo won’t move to Paris with the club focused on keeping Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.
Many want Casillas gone. He is not the keeper he was, and he might never be again. But then, another helping hand and, as ever, he’s ready to grasp it. Lopez is sold to Milan and Ancelotti names Casillas as his starter, but the joy lasts until the end of the campaign. Ancelotti is sacked, Rafa Benitez comes in and Perez unceremoniously shows Casillas the door. He’s 34, by no means old for a keeper, but when you leave Real Madrid, especially when you’ve been there since the age of 9, the only way is down.
There were rumours that Casillas would retire; instead, he signs for Porto as a free agent. A smaller league in Portugal, and less money, but a chance to play. And, more important, to get back up. He plays for four seasons, enduring both the thrills of another league title as well as a sustained period on the bench in his third year, followed by a return to the lineup. It’s a microcosm of his career: another fall, another rise.
Casillas’ last stumble was a heart attack in May 2019. He returned to training and, after months of uncertainty, opted to call it a day on Tuesday, saying farewell with a social media post that speaks volumes: “The essential factor is the trail you journey and the individuals who accompany you, not the vacation spot that it takes you.”
Knowledge. The boy whose profession seemed to be on a perpetually upward trajectory was now a person who understood absolutely that so long as the variety of occasions you get again on your ft is larger than the variety of occasions you fall, it actually does not matter the place you find yourself.