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Iker Casillas

Iker Casillas Spanish footballer

Spanish footballer
Iker Casillas
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro Spanish footballer
A.K.A. Íker Casillas Fernández, The Saint
Is Athlete Football player Association football player
From Spain
Type Sports
Gender male
Birth 20 May 1981, Móstoles
Age: 39 years
Iker Casillas
The details


Iker Casillas Fernández (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈiker kaˈsiʎas ferˈnandeθ]; born 20 May 1981) is a Spanish professional footballer who plays for Portuguese club Porto and the Spain national team as a goalkeeper.
Casillas began his youth career with Real Madrid in 1990. After gaining promotion to the senior team in 1999, he remained with the club for sixteen seasons, later serving as the club's captain. During his highly successful time at the Madrid club, he won five La Liga titles (2000–01, 2002–03, 2006–07, 2007–08, 2011–12), two Copa del Rey titles (2010–11, 2013–14), four Supercopa de España titles (2001, 2003, 2008, 2012), three UEFA Champions League titles (1999–2000, 2001–02, 2013–14), two UEFA Super Cups (2002, 2014), two Intercontinental Cups (1998, 2002), and the FIFA Club World Cup (2014). With 725 appearances for the club, Casillas is Madrid's second most capped player of all-time after Raúl.
Casillas debuted for the Spanish national team in June 2000 at the age of 19. To date he has made a national record 167 appearances, making him the joing sixth-most capped male footballer in history, and the joint most capped European player of all time. He became the nation's first choice goalkeeper at the 2002 FIFA World Cup and went on to play at UEFA Euro 2004 and the 2006 FIFA World Cup. In 2008, he was made captain of the Spanish team, leading them to their first European Championship in 44 years by winning Euro 2008. Under Casillas's captaincy, Spain went on to win its first ever World Cup in 2010 and retain the European Championship in 2012. At the 2014 World Cup, Casillas and teammate Xavi joined Andoni Zubizarreta and Fernando Hierro in representing Spain at four World Cups.
Having won the IFFHS World's Best Goalkeeper Award for a record five consecutive years, Casillas is considered as one of the greatest and most successful goalkeepers of all time, placing second behind Gianluigi Buffon in both the IFFHS Best Goalkeeper of the past decade and quarter-century awards in 2010. Nicknamed "San Iker" ("Saint Iker") for his ability to produce spectacular saves, in his prime he was an athletic keeper, known for his quick reactions, and outstanding shot-stopping ability.
Casillas was nominated for the European Footballer of the Year award in 2008, ranking fourth overall. At the end of 2012, he was voted into the UEFA Team of the Year for a record sixth consecutive time; he also holds the record for most appearances by a goalkeeper in the FIFPro World XI. As of 2011, Casillas is one of a very select group of players who have won all major club and national championship titles. On 19 October 2010, he became the goalkeeper with most appearances of all time in the Champions League and in November 2011, he became the most capped player of all time for the Spain national team. In September 2015, he became the player with the most appearances in the UEFA Champions League. With 167 caps for the national team, Casillas is the third captain in football history to lift the World Cup trophy, the Champions League trophy and the European Championship trophy, after Franz Beckenbauer and Didier Deschamps.

Early life

Casillas was born on 20 May 1981 in Móstoles, Community of Madrid, to José Luis Casillas, a civil servant in the Ministry of Education, and María del Carmen Fernández González, a hairdresser. Both his parents had moved from their home of Navalacruz, Ávila. When Iker was a child, he lived for some years in the Basque Country, but he has always considered Madrid to be his hometown. Casillas has a brother, seven years younger, named Unai, who used to play as a central midfielder for CD Móstoles.

One weekend as a young child, Casillas forgot to post his father's football predictions on the weekend; his father had correctly predicted all 14 results, and the family lost out on an estimated €1.2 million (£1 million).

Club career

Real Madrid

Early years

Casillas began his career in Real Madrid's youth system, known as La Fábrica, during the 1990–91 season. On 27 November 1997, at the age of 16, he was first called up to the first team to face Rosenborg in the Champions League. In 2000, he became the youngest ever goalkeeper to play in a Champions League final when Real Madrid defeated Valencia 3–0, just four days after his 19th birthday.

2001–10 seasons

Casillas lost his place in the side to backup César Sánchez after poor performances in the 2001–02 campaign, but redeemed himself when Sánchez suffered an injury in the final minutes of the 2002 Champions League Final. Casillas came on and pulled off several key saves to deny a rampant Bayer Leverkusen the Champions League crown. Real Madrid won 2–1.

Casillas' gloves on display at the Santiago Bernabeu museum

The 2007–08 season was a fruitful season for Casillas, as he helped Real Madrid reclaim their 31st La Liga title and conceded only 32 goals in 36 matches to claim the Zamora Trophy. On 14 February 2008, he and the club captain Raúl were awarded contracts for life. Casillas signed a contract extension that would keep him at the club until 2017, with an automatic extension if he played 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 27 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 rumours, saying that no such offer had been made. Manchester United had been rumoured to have enquired about him, but no price was announced. He had been linked with other Premier League clubs before but Casillas himself stated that he "had no intention of leaving" his boyhood club.

Casillas, wearing the captain's armband while playing for Real in 2010

During the 2009–10 season on 4 October in a game against Sevilla, 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 goalkeeper 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." Europa Press reported that Casillas was the second-most popular Spanish sportsman on the Internet in 2010. The study performed by company Vipnet360 examined the web presence on platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.


During the 2010–11 season, after the departure of first and second captains of Real Madrid, Raúl and Guti respectively, Casillas was selected as first captain with new vice-captains Sergio Ramos, Marcelo and Gonzalo Higuaín.

During the 2011–12 season, Casillas won the IFFHS Best Goalkeeper award, making him only the second goalkeeper to win it behind Gianluigi Buffon four times and the only goalkeeper to win the award four times in a row. Casillas played his 600th match for Real Madrid on 22 January 2012 in a 4–1 win against Athletic Bilbao. On 2 May 2012, Casillas clinched his fifth La Liga title and his first as a captain of Real Madrid, with a 3–0 win in Bilbao.

Casillas at the Santiago Bernabéu

On 22 December 2012, Casillas was dropped by José Mourinho for a La Liga match against Málaga in favour of Antonio Adan. This was the beginning of a series of sour disagreements between the Portuguese coach and the player, some of which, along with other internal affairs, were allegedly aired to the press by Casillas himself. This generated a shift in the opinion of certain sectors of Real Madrid's fans, who gave Casillas the nickname "topor" (a portmanteau of "topo," and "portero," Spanish for "mole" and "goalkeeper," respectively). During the 2012–13 season, Casillas won the IFFHS Best Goalkeeper Award for the fifth consecutive time, making him the only goalkeeper in history to have ever won that award five times (in a row).

In January 2013, after a serious injury to Casillas, Mourinho signed Diego López from Sevilla. López was named first choice keeper ahead of Antonio Adán and kept his place in the team even after Casillas had returned from injury. After the 2012–13 season, Mourinho left Madrid and soon after his departure, Spanish midfielder Andrés Iniesta criticised him for benching Casillas.

In the middle of 2013, it was announced that Carlo Ancelotti would be Real Madrid's head coach for the 2013–14 season. Real Madrid started the season with a 2–1 victory over Real Betis, in which Casillas was benched once again. He made his first start in 238 days in the Champions League group match against Galatasaray, but was injured in the 14th minute after Sergio Ramos caught him with an accidental elbow as the goalkeeper came from his line to make a routine catch. Despite being the club's second choice keeper in La Liga, behind Diego López, Casillas continued to be Madrid's first choice keeper in the Champions League and Copa del Rey, setting a new record of 962 minutes without conceding a goal. In February 2014, he became the first goalkeeper to play in every round of the Copa del Rey prior to the final without conceding a goal. On 16 April, he captained Madrid in the final as they beat rivals Barcelona 2–1 at Valencia's Mestalla Stadium.

On 24 May 2014, Casillas captained Real Madrid in the 2014 UEFA Champions League Final, winning the title for the third time in his career with a 4–1 win over Atlético Madrid in Lisbon; this was the tenth time Real Madrid had won the trophy. Following the Champions League win, the 2014–15 season saw him return to being the club's first choice goalkeeper, as he then went on to win the UEFA Super Cup over Sevilla on 12 August 2014. He then also won the FIFA Club World Cup later that year, making his 700th appearance for Madrid on 20 December 2014, in the 2014 FIFA Club World Cup Final, as Real Madrid defeated San Lorenzo 2–0.


After much speculation about his future, on 11 July 2015, Casillas signed with Portuguese side Porto on a two-year deal with the option of a one-year extension. Real Madrid's conduct in his exit was criticised, with Casillas' parents claiming that he was being forced out of the club by president Florentino Pérez, who received calls to quit from fans. Former international teammate Xavi, who earlier that summer left Barcelona after a similarly long and successful career, claimed that Real Madrid were ungrateful of Casillas' service to the club.

He made his Primeira Liga debut on 15 August, keeping a clean sheet in a 3–0 win over Vitória de Guimarães at the Estádio do Dragão. On 29 September 2015, Casillas overtook Xavi to become the player with the most appearances in the UEFA Champions League, making his record 152nd Champions League appearance in a 2–1 home win over Chelsea. That season, Casillas also broke Edwin van der Sar's record for the most clean-sheets in Champions League history, keeping his 51st clean-sheet in the competition on 20 October 2015, in a 2–0 win over Maccabi Tel-Aviv, as his team climbed top of Champions League Group G. In January 2016, he was blamed for the away loss at Vitória de Guimarães (1–0) in the league, following a high-profile error.

International career

Casillas lifting the Euro 2012 trophy, the third consecutive major title for Spain, achieving a historic treble

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 most capped player in the history of the Spanish national team. Following his full international debut at the senior level on 3 June 2000 against Sweden (at 19 years and 14 days), Casillas was an unused substitute at UEFA Euro 2000. He was part of the roster for the 2002 FIFA World Cup, initially as the understudy to Santiago Cañizares. Coincidentally, he became first-choice when Cañizares had to withdraw from the tournament due to injury from a freak accident. At 21, Casillas was one of the youngest first-choice goalkeepers in the tournament. He played an instrumental role in Spanish progression when he saved two penalties in the shoot-out during the round of 16 match against the Republic of Ireland, earning him the nickname "The Saint". One of his saves during the quarter-final versus South Korea during the 2002 World Cup was rated by FIFA as one of the top ten saves of all time.

Euro 2004 and 2006 World Cup

Casillas played in all eight Group six fixtures during UEFA 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 the first choice for the 2006 World Cup, captaining the team twice, but could not prevent La Roja from losing 3–1 to a Zinedine Zidane-inspired France in the Round of 16.

Euro 2008

With the exclusion of his Real Madrid teammate Raúl from the squad for Euro 2008, Casillas was given the captain's armband. He started the first two 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 quarter-finals 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 in all of the quarter-final, semi-final and final matches, with Sweden's first round goal by Zlatan Ibrahimović being the last one scored against him. 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 Spain's longest-serving goalkeeper Andoni Zubizarreta and Paco Buyo. Wesley Sonck of Belgium ended their goalless streak when he scored against them a 2010 World Cup qualifying match.

Casillas was the highest-ranked goalkeeper (fourth place) in the 2008 Ballon d'Or behind Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and national teammate Fernando Torres. Also in 2008, Casillas was named the world's best goalkeeper by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS). He also came in third place in the best goalkeepers of all time ranking; beating Oliver Kahn.

2010 World Cup

Casillas was Spain's starting goalkeeper during the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup in South Africa, making four appearances as Spain finished the tournament in third place. 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). Two months later, Casillas made his 100th appearance for Spain in its friendly win over Argentina, making him only the third player in history of Spanish football to ever reach this far internationally.

Iker Casillas with Xavi, after winning the Euro 2012 final

On 11 July 2010, Casillas captained Spain to their first ever World Cup title with a 1–0 win against the Netherlands. In doing so he became the third ever goalkeeper to captain a World Cup winning side (along with Gianpiero Combi in 1934 and Dino Zoff in 1982). He was voted the tournament's best goalkeeper and awarded the Golden Glove. In the course of the finals in South Africa, he kept five clean sheets, conceded two goals, and saved a penalty in the quarter-final against Paraguay. In the final, he made two crucial stops from Netherlands' Arjen Robben with the score at 0–0 after the Dutchman had passed all the defenders.

On 15 November 2011, Casillas became Spain's most capped player, breaking Andoni Zubizarreta's record after starting for Spain in their 2–2 draw against Costa Rica.

On 29 February 2012, in Spain's 5–0 win over Venezuela, Casillas equalled Edwin van der Sar's record of 72 international clean sheets. On 30 May, in Spain's 4–1 win over South Korea, Casillas came on for Pepe Reina on the 82nd minute mark. This set the record for most international victories with 95 giving Casillas yet another record to his name. On 6 June, In Spain's 1–0 win over China, Casillas set the record for most international clean sheets with 74 clean sheets.

Euro 2012

On 1 July 2012, Casillas became the first player to reach 100 international wins for his country. He also set another record with his 509 minutes without conceding a goal in that year's European Championship, keeping five consecutive clean sheets, and breaking the longstanding tally of 494 minutes set by Italian goalkeeper Dino Zoff; the only goal he conceded, scored by Antonio Di Natale, came in Spain's opening match of the tournament, against eventual runners-up Italy. Casillas then continued his new record for minutes unbeaten with Spain to 817 minutes, which was broken by France's Olivier Giroud in the last seconds of Spain's game against France.

2014 World Cup

In June 2013, Casillas represented Spain at the 2013 Confederations Cup in Brazil, making three appearances as Spain reached the final, only to be defeated by the hosts. In June 2014, Casillas was selected to represent Spain in his fourth World Cup. In the team's opening match, he made two mistakes leading to goals from Stefan de Vrij and Robin van Persie as the champions were defeated 5–1 by the Netherlands. After the match, Casillas apologised for the defeat and called his performance the worst of his career. He also started in Spain's second group game against Chile, which they lost 2–0 and were subsequently eliminated from the World Cup. He received criticism for his role in Chile's second goal, where he punched Alexis Sánchez's free kick into the path of the goalscorer Charles Aránguiz. On 23 June, Casillas was left on the bench for Spain's final game against Australia, with Pepe Reina playing instead.

Euro 2016

On 5 September 2015, Casillas kept a clean sheet in his 100th game as Spain's captain, a 2–0 UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying win over Slovakia at the Estadio Carlos Tartiere in Oviedo. He equalled the Latvian Vitālijs Astafjevs' European record of 166 caps on 27 March 2016 by playing in a friendly against Romania.

On 31 May, Casillas was named to Vicente del Bosque's final 23-man Spain squad for Euro 2016. The following day, he became the most-capped European player by earning his 167th cap in a 6–1 friendly win over South Korea in Salzburg. During the tournament he was the second choice goalkeeper behind David de Gea and couldn't win another cap in France.

Style of play

Regarded as one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time, Casillas was given the nickname "San Iker" ("Saint Iker") throughout his career, for his precocious performances as a youngster, and due to his ability to produce acrobatic and decisive saves. In his prime, he was a spectacular and athletic keeper, who was known in particular for his outstanding speed, agility, reflexes, consistency and shot-stopping, as well as his foot-work, positioning between the posts, concentration, penalty-saving abilities, and leadership. Despite his reputation and goalkeeping ability, due to his lack of notable height and strong physical attributes, he has been criticised at times by pundits for his handling and indecisiveness when coming out to claim crosses, often preferring to punch the ball away, which led to a series of errors and less consistent performances in his later career, as he lost some of his speed and mobility with age. Although he has occasionally criticised by pundits for his limited skills with the ball at his feet in comparison to other Spanish goalkeepers, Casillas's distribution has generally been reliable throughout his career.


In January 2012, Casillas agreed a sponsorship deal with Adidas to wear their Response goalkeeping gloves and Predator football boots. The move to Adidas ended a long running association for Casillas with Reebok, which started in 2004. In February 2005, Casillas was the football face of Reebok's "I Am What I Am" global integrated advertising campaign that linked all the brand's marketing efforts under one umbrella. Adidas has been the parent company of Reebok since 2005.

Outside football

Personal life

Since 2009, Casillas has been in a relationship with sports journalist Sara Carbonero. Their son Martín was born on 3 January 2014 in Madrid. In November 2015, the couple announced they are expecting their second child. On 20 March 2016, the couple have been married. On 2 June 2016, Sara gave birth to the couple's second child, Lucas.


In 2011, Casillas was appointed as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Programme's Millennium Development Goals.

Career statistics


As of 20:59 20 December 2016
Club Season League National Cup Continental Othera Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Real Madrid 1999–2000 La Liga 27 0 5 0 12 0 3 0 47 0
2000–01 34 0 0 0 11 0 2 0 47 0
2001–02 25 0 5 0 9 0 1 0 40 0
2002–03 38 0 0 0 15 0 2 0 55 0
2003–04 37 0 2 0 9 0 2 0 50 0
2004–05 37 0 0 0 10b 0 47 0
2005–06 37 0 4 0 7 0 48 0
2006–07 38 0 0 0 7 0 45 0
2007–08 36 0 0 0 8 0 2 0 46 0
2008–09 38 0 0 0 7 0 2 0 47 0
2009–10 38 0 0 0 8 0 46 0
2010–11 35 0 8 0 11 0 54 0
2011–12 37 0 4 0 10 0 2 0 53 0
2012–13 19 0 3 0 5 0 2 0 29 0
2013–14 2 0 9 0 13 0 24 0
2014–15 32 0 0 0 10 0 5 0 47 0
Real Madrid total 510 0 40 0 152 0 23 0 725 0
Porto 2015–16 Primeira Liga 32 0 0 0 8 0 0 0 40 0
2016–17 15 0 0 0 8 0 0 0 23 0
Porto total 47 0 0 0 16 0 0 0 63 0
Career total 557 0 40 0 168 0 23 0 788 0

a Includes Supercopa de España, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup.

b Includes 2 games in UEFA Champions League qualifying rounds 2004–05.


As of 1 June 2016
Casillas and Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero holding the FIFA World Cup Trophy after Spain's victory in 2010
Year Apps Goals
2000 6 0
2001 5 0
2002 11 0
2003 11 0
2004 12 0
2005 10 0
2006 10 0
2007 8 0
2008 15 0
2009 13 0
2010 15 0
2011 11 0
2012 16 0
2013 9 0
2014 8 0
2015 5 0
2016 2 0
Total 167 0



Real Madrid
  • La Liga: 2000–01, 2002–03, 2006–07, 2007–08, 2011–12
  • Copa del Rey: 2010–11, 2013–14
  • Supercopa de España: 2001, 2003, 2008, 2012
  • UEFA Champions League: 1999–2000, 2001–02, 2013–14
  • UEFA Super Cup: 2002, 2014
  • FIFA Club World Cup: 2014
  • Intercontinental Cup: 2002


  • FIFA World Cup: 2010
  • UEFA European Championship: 2008, 2012


  • Bravo Award: 2000
  • La Liga Breakthrough Player of the Year: 2000
  • La Liga Best Goalkeeper: 2009, 2012
  • BBVA Fair Play award: 2012–13
  • Zamora Trophy: 2007–08
  • Best European Goalkeeper: 2010
  • IFFHS World's Best Goalkeeper: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012
  • FIFA FIFPro World XI: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012
  • FIFA World Cup Golden Glove: 2010
  • FIFA World Cup Dream Team: 2010
  • UEFA Euro Team of the Tournament: 2008, 2012
  • UEFA Team of the Year: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012
  • ESM Team of the Year: 2008
  • UEFA Ultimate Team of the Year (published 2015)


Decoration Year Decorated
Gold Medal of the Royal Order of Sporting Merit 2009
Favourite son of Navalacruz 2010
Favourite son of Móstoles 2010
Royal Order of Sports Merit Cross 2015

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