Iker Casillas: Twelve years playing for Real Madrid

Iker Casillas made his first team debut with Real Madrid against Athletic Bilbao twelve years ago today. The goalkeeper joined the team’s academy on 1 July 1990 and reached the first team on 12 September 1999 despite being only 17 years old. It was the birth of a player loved and respected by fans and peers for his deeds both on and off the pitch.

Iker Casillas' debut playing for Real Madrid
Iker Casillas' debut with Real Madrid

The goalkeeper knew his first trip to Bilbao with the first team was special and he put shyness aside in order to focus on the game. The injury of Bodo Ilgner and the niggles Bizarri suffered from gave him the starting position and he used it well. Captain Fernando Hierro took it upon himself to serve goal kicks in order to relieve Iker from pressure. The goalkeeper conceded two goals, but his excellent performance prevented the local goal tally from being larger, allowing Real Madrid to take one point from San Mamés.

”That’s the greatest football memory I have”, says the keeper, “I went from laying the Second Division B playoffs with Real Madrid C to being at San Mames Stadium. You can imagine how different it was: from three journalists covering the match there were now 50; from playing in front of 500 people I was now playing in front of 50,000… It was a brutal change”.

Twelve years, 576 official appearances with Real Madrid, 124 caps later, Casillas is no longer scared by the spotlight. He has played 422 league games, which makes him the sixth footballer with the most appearances with Real Madrid, only six shy of Paco Gento.

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