Iker Casillas life and biography

Iker Casillas picture, image, poster

Iker Casillas biography

Date of birth : 1981-05-20
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Móstoles, Madrid, Spain
Nationality : Spanish
Category : Sports
Last modified : 2010-05-10
Credited as : Football Golakeeper Spanish, Footballer for Real Madrid, World Cup

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Iker Casillas Fernández (born 20 May 1981 in Móstoles, Madrid) is a Spanish football goalkeeper who plays for the Spanish La Liga club Real Madrid and serves as captain for the Spanish national team. He is currently first-choice goalkeeper for both club and country and serves as a vice captain for his club. As captain of the national side, he led a young Spanish team to their first European Championship in 44 years, his first senior international honour.

Since bursting onto the scene as a teenager, Casillas has been recognised as one of the best goalkeepers in Europe, illustrated by the many awards he has received. He was ranked 4th in the 2008 European Footballer of the Year voting, and also the highest ranked goalkeeper in 2009. At the end of 2009 he was voted into the UEFA Team of the Year for the third consecutive time.

Real Madrid

He is a product of Real Madrid's youth system , and started in the junior squad during the 1990–91 season. He was first called up to the first team on the 27 November 1997 at age 16 to face Rosenborg in UEFA Champions League 1997–98, but it wasn't until the 1998–99 season that he debuted in the senior side, substituting Bodo Illgner. By the next season, he relegated Illgner to the bench and became first choice. In 2000, he became the youngest-ever goalkeeper to ever play in a Champions League final when Real Madrid defeated Valencia 3-0 just four days after his nineteenth birthday.

Casillas at Estadio Santiago Bernabéu

Casillas lost his place in the side to backup César Sánchez after a patch of bad form during the 2001–02 campaign, but redeemed himself when Sánchez suffered an injury in the last minutes of 2002 Champions League final match. Casillas came on and pulled off several brilliant saves to deny a rampant Bayer Leverkusen the Champions League crown. The Whites won 2-1 and the twenty-year-old has maintained the number 1 shirt ever since.

The 2007–08 season was a fruitful season for Casillas. He helped Real Madrid reclaim their 31st La Liga title and conceded only 32 goals in 36 games to claim the Zamora Trophy. On 14 February 2008, he and club captain Raúl were awarded new contract extensions. Casillas signed a contract extension that will keep him at the club until 2017, with an automatic extension if he plays 30 competitive matches during the final season of the contract and a buy-out clause of £113 million. His performances earned him a spot in the UEFA Team of the Year for the second time.

In February 2009, Casillas equalled Paco Buyo's record of 454 matches played (for a goalkeeper) and has since surpassed it to become Real Madrid's most-capped goalkeeper of all time at only twenty-seven years old. During the 2009 summer transfer window, some Spanish media reported that Manchester City had launched a record £129 million bid for the goalkeeper. However the club denied the allegations saying that no such offer had been made. He had been linked with other Premier League clubs before but Casillas himself stated that he "had no intention of leaving" his boyhood club.

During the 2009–10 season on 4 October in a game against Sevilla F.C., Casillas made an extraordinary save; he ran from one side of his goal to the other and denied Diego Perotti in a one-on-one close range encounter. After the match, he received praise from fellow Spanish goalkeepers and England goalkeeping legend Gordon Banks, who stated "Casillas' reflexes are incredible. If he continues to play this well he will become one of the best goalkeepers in the history of the game".

International career

Casillas debuted for the national team in the U–17 level. At age 16, he was the youngest player in the Spanish squad that placed third at the 1997 FIFA U-17 World Championship in Egypt. He was later made captain of the U-17's. Two years later, he went on to win the FIFA World Youth Championship and the UEFA-CAF Meridian Cup that same year. Initially second-choice, he soon worked his way up to first-choice and eventually earned his first senior cap following some brilliant performances at club level.

Casillas is currently the second-most capped goalkeeper in the history of the Spanish national team, behind Andoni Zubizarreta, who appeared in 126 matches. Following his full international debut at the senior level against Sweden (at 19 years and 14 days), Casillas was an unused substitute at Euro 2000. He was part of the roster for the 2002 World Cup, initially as the understudy to Santiago Cañizares. Coincidentally, Casillas became the first-choice goalkeeper when Cañizares had to withdraw from the tournament due to injury from a freak accident. At 21, he was one of the youngest first-choice goalkeepers in the tournament. He gained hero status when he saved two penalties in the penalty shoot-out during the round of 16 match against the Republic of Ireland.

Casillas played in all eight Group six fixtures during Euro 2004 qualifying, conceding just four goals. He kept a clean sheet in the second leg victory of the playoff against Norway which ended 3-0 in Oslo, and started all of Spain's Euro 2004 matches. He was first choice for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, captaining the team twice, but could not prevent the La Roja from losing 3-1 to a Zidane-inspired France in the Round of 16.

With the exclusion of Real Madrid teammate Raúl from the squad for Euro 2008, Casillas was given the captain's armband. He started the first two Euro 2008 Group D games against Russia and Sweden before being rested in place of second-choice goalkeeper Pepe Reina for Spain's group stage elimination of Greece. Casillas saved two penalties from Antonio Di Natale and Daniele De Rossi as Spain eliminated Italy in the quarterfinals with a 4–2 shootout win following a goalless draw on 22 June. Spain later went on to win the competition with a 1–0 win over Germany in the final on 29 June; Casillas kept clean sheets for the quarterfinal, semifinal, and final matches, with Sweden's first round goal by Zlatan Ibrahimović being the last one scored against him. In his 82 appearances for Spain, he has kept 42 clean sheets. On 29 June 2008 Casillas became the first goalkeeper-captain to lift the UEFA European Championship trophy when Spain beat Germany 1–0 in the final.

In October 2008, Casillas and deputy in goal Pepe Reina broke the national record for the longest time spent without conceding a goal. The pair went unbeaten for 710 minutes, longer than the legendary Andoni Zubizarreta and Paco Buyo. Wesley Sonck of Belgium ended their goalless streak when he scored against them a 2010 World Cup qualifying match.

One of his saves during the quarterfinals versus South Korea during the 2002 FIFA World Cup was rated by FIFA as one of the top 10 saves of all time. Casillas was the highest ranked goalkeeper (4th place) in the 2008 Ballon d'Or behind Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and national teammate Fernando Torres.

He was named the world's best goalkeeper in 2008 by the IFFHS. He also came in third place in the best goalkeepers of all time ranking; beating Oliver Kahn.

On 5 September 2009, after a 5-0 win over Belgium in a qualifying match for the World Cup, Casillas equalled Andoni Zubizarreta's national record of 56 clean sheets, and during the Spanish team's next match against Estonia on 9 September 2009, he surpassed Zubizarreta as the record holder for the most Spanish international clean sheets (this being achieved in Casillas' 98th appearance for the national team, while Zubizarreta made 126 before his retirement).

On 14 November, he made his 100th appearance for the Spanish squad in the friendly win over Argentina, making him only the third player in history of Spanish football to ever reach this far internationally. Only Andoni Zubizarreta, on 126, now stands ahead of him.

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