Iker Casillas has opened up on the last few years of his Real Madrid career, explaining that his time at the club would never recover after a "war" with manager Jose Mourinho in 2013.
The Spanish goalkeeper was unceremoniously booted out of the Bernabeu after a 25-year association with the club last summer. In a transfer that almost caused a riot in the Spanish capital, Casillas joined Portuguese side Porto for a nominal fee.
It was widely assumed that Casillas' departure was to make way for David de Gea. However, while a deal for the Manchester United shot-stopper came close, it seems Casillas was destined to leave anyway after his relationship with the club's hierarchy broke down.
Of course, it all started when he infamously fell out with Mourinho. The Special One would make his authority known by dropping Casillas in a match against Malaga in December 2012. It signalled the start of an 18-month spell on the bench for the World Cup winner and would eventually lead to his inglorious departure.
Speaking on popular Spanish television show 'En la tuya o en la mía’, Casillas explained how the fallout with Mourinho came to pass and why, in the end, he thought it was best to leave for Porto.
Here's what he had to say:
"There was a tremendous war. In the last year, we did not talk at all. It was an ugly situation.
"Our relationship changed after the team did not do well in the 2012/13 season. We had to be more united, but everything changed from September to December 2013 with my substitution in Malaga."
"Besides that, he (Mourinho) did not feel good that I was talking to the players of Barcelona.
"It was the talk of the world and I think I did my best. My situation in Madrid was flawed since that time. I was not feeling well on a personal level, I wanted to play and compete. The best thing was to leave."
The full interview (Spanish) is available below:
The phone call
Following a particularly feisty El Clasico encounter, Casillas called Xavi Hernandez, one of his oldest friends, and Carles Puyol to suggest both clubs look at the way they were behaving.
"Iker deserves a lot of credit," said Xavi in a Marca interview last year. "He called me and Puyol. I told him that both sides had to look at themselves. He was looking out for the interests of Spanish football."
But both played for Real Madrid's rivals, Barcelona, and when Mourinho found out, he considered it an act of treachery. The Portuguese wanted war with the Catalan club but it was one that would be impossible to win if Casillas continued to undermine him with the extension of olive branches.
It turned an already frosty relationship between the pair into a rivalry, one that appears to continue until this very day.