A pawn in the Real game

Adán has had a traumatic first taste of Primera soccer

Real Madrid goalkeeper Antonio Adán is shown the red card on Sunday.
Real Madrid goalkeeper Antonio Adán is shown the red card on Sunday.EMILIO NARANJO (EFE)

There were few outward signs of the turmoil surrounding him as Antonio Adán moved between the cameras after Sunday’s match, though a quiver in his voice reflected the turbulent afternoon he had had. “It’s a shame to be sent off after five minutes but it’s something that happens,” said the Real Madrid goalkeeper.

Adán has become the unfortunate victim of a psychological duel between José Mourinho and goalkeeper Iker Casillas. The Real coach hasn’t hesitated in using his reserve keeper to settle ongoing scores with his captain with disastrous results; and it’s difficult not to feel all the pressure on the 25-year-old had its part to play in his red card for bringing down Real Sociedad’s Carlos Vela just six minutes into the match.

After a week of vacillation, Mourinho again opted to play Adán over Casillas, as he had done in Real’s pre-Christmas 3-2 defeat at Málaga. The crowd reacted with cheers as the captain’s name was read out among the substitutes and boos for the Portuguese coach — “I think that’s perfect! Perfect!” was his reaction. This time the game ended in a hard-fought 4-3 Madrid win but only after Casillas had retaken his place in goal to chants of “Iiiiker, Iiiiker” after Adán’s expulsion.

He has grown up at Madrid, he is from Madrid, he is a Madrid fan, why can he not be happy?”

While commentators see Casillas’ benching as a Mourinho power play, for the coach, it is all about performance. “There are people who are applauded independently of their performance,” he insisted. “I don’t like always being in the comfortable position of forever being a hero independently of my performance.” The fans, he argues, are not showing Adán the respect he deserves. “Because he has been at Madrid for 16 years, he has grown up at Madrid, he is from Madrid, he is a Madrid fan, he is a guy from here... For what reason can he not have the right to be happy?”

Adán is undoubtedly getting his first taste of Primera División soccer in avoidably traumatic fashion. But he remains dignified and only has praise for his captain. “Iker gave me his full support before I went out on the pitch and after he supported me as a captain. [...] He has behaved phenomenally well.”

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