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Casillas retires: Messi hails "really tough opponent"

Speaking to AS, Barcelona's Lionel Messi paid tribute to Real Madrid and Spain great Iker Casillas, who announced his retirement on Tuesday.

Casillas retires: Messi hails "really tough opponent"

Barcelona star Lionel Messi has joined the many major football figures who have paid tribute to retiring Real Madrid and Spain great Iker Casillas.

FC Porto goalkeeper Casillas, who captained Spain to victory at the 2010 World Cup, confirmed the end of his illustrious, 21-year playing career on Tuesday.

Messi talks of "special rivalry" as Casillas hangs up his gloves

Speaking to AS, Messi said: "Iker is retiring today, but his status as a legend of the game was secured long ago - not just because he was one of LaLiga's best players, but also because he won everything at international level."

In a message to Casillas, the Argentine told the 39-year-old: "You’re a fantastic goalkeeper and you were a really tough opponent, I have to say.

"Looking back, I think it was a really special rivalry that pushed us to reach new levels every time we came up against each other."

Casillas: Messi the best forward I've faced

Messi's admiration for Casillas is certainly reciprocated, with the keeper regularly talking of how difficult he found facing 'La Pulga'. "The best forward I’ve ever played against? It’s Messi," he said after his 2015 departure from Madrid.

“I’ve come up against him a number of times and there can be no doubt about it.”