World-famous Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas, 39, on Tuesday officially announced that he is retiring from professional soccer.
The announcement comes a year and three months after suffering a heart attack as he was training with Portugal’s Porto, which he joined in 2015 after a long and successful career with Real Madrid.
“Today is one of the most important, and at the same time difficult, days of my sporting career: the time has come to say goodbye,” said Casillas on social media.
“One of the most important soccer players of our 118-year history is retiring as a professional player,” said Real Madrid in a statement. “The best goalkeeper in the history of the club and of Spanish soccer arrived at our home at the age of nine. Here he trained and here he defended our shirt for 25 years; he will forever be one of our most emblematic captains.”
Many former colleagues and organizations sent messages of support for a player defined by FIFA as “an icon” and “a true goalkeeping great.”
In a career spanning two decades, Casillas carved out a place for himself as one of the biggest names in Spanish soccer. After his debut with Real Madrid in September 1999, he went on to play 725 official matches with the Madrid club, becoming the youngest goalkeeper to win a Champions final.
Casillas won five La Liga titles and two Copa del Rey titles, and was recognized by FIFA and UEFA as the best goalkeeper in the world for five straight years.
Between 2008 and 2012 he was the captain of the national team, earning two UEFA Super Cups as well as the 2010 FIFA World Cup, among others. This period is regarded as the golden era of Spanish soccer.
Following his heart attack, Casillas announced he would run as a candidate to helm the the Spanish Football Federation, but he dropped the plans two months ago.
English version by Susana Urra.