Monday, July 13, 2015

Every Story Has An End... Goodbye Casillas

Someone asked yesterday why I love Casillas. For the first time in years, I refrained from my standard response and took a trip down memory lane; back to the early 2000s’, when this affair began.

I played football regularly as a goalkeeper in Junior Secondary School. One game is seared into my memory. I arrived school late after the exams were over, and my class was three goals down in a game. I was substituted on once I got close enough to be spotted, and my class cheered as I got between the sticks (more like stones). I pulled off a few amazing saves to keep the gap from widening, and we got our act together and won the game.

After a few more games like this, I became somewhat of a hero. It was time to brand a shirt and pick a model. Oliver Kahn and Fabien Barthez were arguably the best in the world at that time, but a young Casillas had recently won the European Cup with Real Madrid at 19 – making important saves in the final – and he stole my heart.

I could not watch the Spanish league at the time, so I followed him and by extension Real Madrid via newspapers; I also always used Real when playing soccer games on the PlayStation. I followed news about him as a goalkeeper and an individual through the years, and my admiration grew in bounds. Naturally, when I could finally watch all the football I wanted – I chose Real.

Casillas was with Real for twenty-five years, starting at age nine. He won it all at Real. Over 725 games, he won 3 European Cups, 1 World Club Cup, 2 Intercontinental Cups, 2 European Super-Cups, 5 La Ligas, 2 Copas del Rey and 4 Spanish Super-Cups with Real Madrid. Over the same duration, he won 1 World Cup and 2 European Championships with the Spanish national team. He also holds the record for the most clean sheets in the Champions League, the highest number of minutes without conceding a goal in the Copa del Rey, and has won more Champions League games than anyone else.

Many people now remember Casillas for his dismal showing at the 2014 World Cup and his last two seasons with Real. They quickly forget he set records as the best goalkeeper in EUROPE for six consecutive years from 2007 to 2012, and the best goalkeeper in the WORLD for five consecutive years from 2008 to 2012. They forget the downslide started after he broke his hand against Valencia in 2013.

I knew he would leave someday, but the expectation does not compare to the reality of the past few days. I now accept you can deeply love someone you have never met.

Casillas is the reason I watch football.

He is the reason I love Real.

I am very sad to see him leave for Porto, but I will cherish the memory of the many games he played with Los Blancos. I will be a fan as long as he plays. I will bore my children with stories of his glory days, his few mistakes, and his many amazing saves.

Every story has an end.

#GraciasIker #ThankYouCasillas #WeWillNeverForget #IWillNeverForget


PS: An older post titled "For The Love of Casillas" can be found here...

1 comment:

  1. Hahahaha. I remember your shortlived goalkeeping career in Loyola. You were good, but stopped playing after taking a shot in the face. Nt sure if it was Ben John or Lucky. Think it was Ben. I agree you were a good keeper. Good memories you stirred up. I remember everyone having a name - Figo (Tobi Bada), etc etc. Good old days @ Loyola. Up Loyo!