Casillas opens up on Real Madrid split: "It was a very strange atmosphere"

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Casillas opens up on Real Madrid split: "It was a very strange atmosphere"
Ben Roberts Photograph: Ben Roberts for the

Iker Casillas has opened up on his acrimonious departure from Real Madrid last year, recalling the “strange atmosphere" at the club at the time.

Tearful farewell

The goalkeeper, who had been at Madrid his whole career until that point and made more than 500 appearances over 16 seasons, bid a tearful farewell to the Bernabéu in July 2015, with his family at the time claiming that he had been forced out of the club and "vilified" by president Florentino Perez.

Losing his place to Diego Lopez was a decisive factor in the goalie's departure to Porto, a place where the 35-year old has recaptured some of the best form of his career over the last year.

Casillas left Real Madrid in tears in 2015

"The best thing was to leave Real Madrid"

“I knew that my time at Real Madrid was coming to an end in January or February 2015,” he remembers. “The atmosphere was not good. I thought about making a decision. We thought hard about what to do, and the best thing was to leave Real Madrid.

“I think it was the [right] moment,” continued Casillas. “I had thought about leaving Madrid after winning the Champions League in 2014. Due to circumstance, Madrid decided on Diego Lopez, but the atmosphere was very strange.”

Casillas has recaptured form at Porto

"Distance from Spanish team has been good for me"

After departing his boyhood club, Casillas suffered a subsequent blow to his morale, losing his place in the Spain team to Manchester United keeper David de Gea – a spot he hasn’t been able to win back since. But Casillas insists the change has been a positive one. 

"To have distanced myself from the Spanish team has been good for me,” remarked Casillas, who has won a record 167 caps for his country. “I have never given up, but to avoid problems, I stepped aside.

"Why can’t I play the World Cup in Russia?”

“[Julen] Lopetegui told me that he was going to go with David de Gea and I accepted it, but I have still not left the Spanish team. Why can’t I play the World Cup in Russia?”

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