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13th-Jul-2015

Casillas, the Spain hero Real Madrid let go

By AFP, Madrid

Spain captain Iker Casillas spent a glorious quarter-century at Real Madrid but hit a rough patch in his last years at his boyhood club which sold him Saturday to FC Porto.
In 2010 Casillas, now 34, 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.
With Madrid, Casillas had enchanted the Bernabeu Stadium for years with his catlike reflexes, gravity-defying saves and fearless one-on-ones, earning the nickname "Saint Iker" from fans.
Off the pitch, the square-jawed athlete and his television presenter girlfriend Sara Carbonero are darlings of the glossy celebrity magazines along with their toddler son Martin.
In 2000, Iker, the boy from the Madrid suburb of Mostoles, became the youngest ever goalkeeper to play in a Champions League final, at 19 years and four days of age. He kept a clean sheet in that 3-0 win over Valencia.
He went on to scale the heights with Real, racking up five Spanish and three European league titles plus 11 other trophies with the club.
But his lustre dimmed over the past three years for Real Madrid and in the end the club did not hesitate to get rid of him as they develop a younger squad.
They sold him to the Portuguese side despite Casillas making it clear he wanted to see out his contract at Real to 2017.