Iker Casillas still holds a special place in his heart for Real Madrid.
After beginning his career at the club’s academy, the goalkeeper spent 16 seasons between the sticks at the Santiago Bernabeu.
He played with some wonderful players over the years, including the original ‘Galactico’ side that featured Zinedine Zidane and Luis Figo, before the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale arrived. So choosing his best Madrid XI might have been a difficult task.
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Still, Casillas gave it a go.
The Spaniard posted his dream team on his YouTube page. Check it out below.
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Casillas's Madrid XI
Rather modestly, Casillas excluded himself from the team and instead opted for Bodo Illgner, the goalkeeper Casillas replaced in the starting line-up.
After being succeeded by an 18-year-old Casillas in 1999-2000, Illgner soon hung up his gloves. Maybe this is Casillas’ way of saying sorry to the German.
Yet Illgner was no slouch. In 2013, he was named in Marca’s ‘best foreign eleven in Real Madrid’s history’ and won two Champions Leagues.
Elsewhere, Casillas’s team is packed with superstars, from Roberto Carlos in defence, Figo and Zidane in midfield and both Ronaldo’s up front, it’s a side that would comfortably dominate football today.
The 34-year-old left the Spanish capital in unceremonious circumstances in 2015, with his parents claiming Madrid president Florentino Perez “forced” Casillas out.
A fractured relationship with Jose Mourinho, Madrid manager from 2010 to 2013, didn’t help the goalkeeper’s position.
The Special One stamped his authority when he dropped Casillas in a game against Malaga in December 2012, and thus begun a lengthy spell on the bench for the World Cup winner.
Casillas, who cried during his farewell speech, reflected on this difficult period of his career in an interview with Spanish television show ‘En la tuya o en la mia’.
Casillas spoke with Barca pals
During his time on the sidelines, Casillas confided in friends from Barcelona, something that frustrated Mourinho.
“There was a tremendous war,” Casillas said, per 101GreatGoals. “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 fact that Casillas won five La Liga titles and three Champions Leagues proves that, though Mourinho ultimately ousted him from the Bernabeu, he will forever be regarded as a hero by Madristas.
Was Mourinho wrong to bench Casillas? Let us know in the comments section below!
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