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Golden Foot: Iker Casillas wins autumn Ballon d'Or


The Golden Foot is an award presented in Monaco - under the patronage of its royal family - which has been running for a few years and is a sort of autumn Ballon d'Or. An accolade open to players over the age of 28, i.e. guys coming to the end of their careers who have more football behind than ahead of them. A career achievement award that offers them some consolation as they begin their decline. And it's a prize which also seems to go to keepers more often than the Ballon d'Or - or, at least, that has been the case in the past two of its 15 years of existence. In 2016 it was won by Gigi Buffon, while this year it has been awarded to Iker Casillas, who for the moment bookends a sparkling list that began with Roberto Baggio in 2003.

I think the Golden Foot award is a fantastic initiative

There'll be those who argue that it's an insignificant bauble, another snazzy soirée put on by a principality which, if you scratch the surface, is just a big casino. I don't share that view, though. Its list of winners is magnificent from start to finish; it's one that honours the beautiful game - and the choice of Casillas this year only adds to that. I think the award is a fine initiative that gives the lie to the really all-too-easy jibe about football having no memory. It does. In the final throes of their career, players often find themselves deserted of the devotion that has accompanied them since they started out. But, once they have ridden out that period, the recognition pours in. And, in this case, it has begun to do so even before then.

Casillas poses after receiving his Golden Foot Award from Pierre Casiraghi, Princess Caroline's son, in Monaco.
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Casillas poses after receiving his Golden Foot Award from Pierre Casiraghi, Princess Caroline's son, in Monaco.ERIC GAILLARDREUTERS

Amid Porto struggles, this recognition is great for Casillas

It's good for Casillas. Right now he's having to settle for a place on the bench at Porto, with pretty spurious-looking reasons given. Here, in Madrid and in Spain, we can't help but look with sadness upon the sight of Casillas among the subs. It reminds us of those unusually dark days he had at Real Madrid, when José Mourinho allegedly punished him for preserving good relations with Xavi and Carles Puyol for the benefit of the Spain team. ('Allegedly' should perhaps have gone in inverted commas.) His Real career never recovered from that bid for harmony, and he didn't get the departure he deserved. Now he leaves his imprint on the 'Champions Promenade' in Monaco - a footballing walk of fame that only makes room for the best.