Iker Casillas’ rift with Jose Mourinho put a dampener on the final stages of his spell at Real Madrid.
The former Real Madrid goalkeeper has openly discussed how a “tremendous war” broke out in the locker room prior to his unceremonious departure from the Santiago Bernabeu.
And it’s a topic that the Spaniard just can’t get away from. In an interview with Spanish publication XL Semanal, Casillas went into detail about how his Madrid teammates were forced to take sides as his relationship with Mourinho hit rock bottom.
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Casillas joined Madrid’s academy as a youngster and went on to make over 500 appearances for Los Blancos. So to see him ushered out of the door was rather sad.
And what’s even sadder is that his relationship with Mourinho has developed into a defining element of his spell at the club.
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The 34-year-old, currently playing for Porto, won five La Liga titles and three Champions League trophies at Madrid, but knew he had no choice but to end his 25-year stay at the club last year.
“I had to decide whether I was going to stay and be the figure of ridicule that others enjoyed poking like a voodoo doll, or leave and be able to breathe again. I chose the second option to live more peacefully,” he said, per AS.
“If I had looked out for myself more, it would have been a madhouse every day, particularly in the last year.”
Things went downhill when Mourinho dropped Casillas for a game against Malaga in December 2012. That, the goalkeeper claims, threatened to start a civil war inside the locker room.
“It was uncomfortable because within the team there was two people whose relationship was deteriorating - it's something that happens all the time - it happens to a lot of couples,” he continued.
“But that bad relationship made people take sides - it divided people. I only hope that, with time, those ghosts of the past will eventually disappear.”
Casillas’ feelings were made clear when he broke down in tears at his farewell press conference last July. Mourinho left for Chelsea in 2013 but the damage had already been done.
Casillas' parents and Xavi hit out
Florentino Perez was accused by Casillas’ parents of forcing him out of the club, while Barcelona legend Xavi hit out at Madrid’s treatment of the goalkeeper, admitting it left a “bad taste”.
“In recent years, I have seen that he is not enjoying himself like before,” Xavi wrote in Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia. “He even seems bitter and I think everyone in this country should think about this.
“It cannot be that maturing Spanish athletes are not shown sufficient respect, that people neglect to value everything they have done for their sport and instead focus on their defects, sometimes with malicious intent.”