The 2008 and 2012 edition of the European Championship saw Spain, with the effective leadership of Iker Casillas,becoming the first team to win two consecutive European Championships. Earlier this week, Spain’s World Cup and European Championship winning captain has announced his retirement from football at the age of 39.
The former Real Madrid Casillas, who finished his playing days at Porto, have lifted five LaLiga titles and the Champions League three times with Real, making 725 appearances for the Spanish giants over 16 seasons between 1999 and 2015. He also won two Portuguese titles at Porto but did not play again for the club after suffering a heart attack in training last year.
“The important thing is the path you travel and the people who accompany you, not the destination that it takes you,” Casillasposted on Instagram alongside a lengthy retirement letter. “Because that with work and effort comes alone and I think I can say, without hesitation, that it has been the path and the dream destination.”
Casillas was hailed as Real Madrid’s greatest goalkeeper and one of their finest players of all time. “Real Madrid wants to show its appreciation, admiration and affection for one of the greatest legends of our club and world soccer,” read a statement. “The best goalkeeper in the history of Real Madrid and Spanish football came to our house when he was nine years old.
Spain ended their trophy drought in the 2008 edition of the tournament as they took on Germany in the finals, while their 4-0 win against Italy in Euro 2012 is the biggest ever win in the final of the Euro. Goals from David Silva, Jordi Alba, Fernando Torres and Juan Mata sparked wild celebrations across Spain, sweeping away the clouds of an economic crisis that has engulfed the south European nation.
Captain Iker Casillas was the major instrument in uniting the then divided team, merging players for FC Barcelona and Real Madrid into one team. He also blocked important goals from the opponents. Casillas also starred in the historic first World Cup in 2010 win of Spain. Casillas was included in the FIFA FIFProWorld XI five times and chosen as the best goalkeeper in the world by the IFFHS five times.
He won 167 caps for Spain, bettered by Sergio Ramos last year,and later called as Saint Iker for his performance with his country. Casillas also won several individual awards including UEFA team of the season six times in a row (2007-12) and the prestigious Zamora Award following his stellar La Ligaperformance in 2007-08 where Real Madrid won.