Iker Casillas stable after heart attack, but will he play again?

Spanish goalkeeper who now plays for FC Porto may never go back to top-level soccer, say some cardiologists

Iker Casillas shared this photo on Twitter.
Iker Casillas shared this photo on Twitter.

Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas remains stable after his heart attack on Wednesday, but it is unclear whether he will be able to play soccer again.

Casillas, who turns 38 this month, is regarded as one of the greatest goalkeepers Real Madrid has ever had. He also helped the Spain squad win the World Cup in 2010 as well as the 2008 and 2012 European Championships. He joined FC Porto in July 2015.

You can’t play soccer with a coronary stent, much less as a goalkeeper

Juan Antonio Corbalán, former Real Madrid basketball player

He spent Wednesday night at CUF Hospital in the Portuguese city of Porto, where he was admitted after having “an acute myocardial infarction” at a morning training, according to a club statement.

His condition has been described as stable, and Casillas has posted images of himself in social media saying that “everything is under control.” His agent, Carlo Cutropía, said that the goalkeeper will spend three days in hospital.

Everything under control around here; a big scare, but strength intact. Many thanks to everyone for the messages and the affection.

Porto doctor Nelson Pulga said he expects Casillas to make a full recovery, but warned that it is too early to know whether he will be able to keep playing top-level soccer.

“It’s going to depend on many factors: what kind of medication he needs, how he holds up not just at rest but also under stress and during the physical exercise required by his job, and on his own determination to carry on,” added Puga. “It’s only after pondering these factors calmly and through a lot of dialogue that a decision will be made whether he wants to continue.”

Other physicians are also being cautious, noting that the main goal was to save his life, which they did. As for going back to doing the same activity, there is a division of opinion.

Casillas at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Casillas at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.AFP

The cardiologist Vasco de Gama trusts that Casillas will be back at the top of his game because “the problem was resolved in under 90 minutes.”

But others are less confident. Juan Antonio Corbalán, a former Real Madrid basketball player and a cardiologist, thinks that Casillas will not go back to professional soccer.

“You can’t play soccer with a coronary stent, much less as a goalkeeper,” he said on the Spanish state broadcaster Televisión Española. “He will lead a normal life, but in my opinion he will not play professional sports.”

Cristiano Ronaldo underwent heart surgery when he was 15 years old. His mother Dolores Aveiro recalled in her book Mother Courage how doctors told her that her son might never play soccer again. In his case, the problem was an irregular heartbeat.


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