Madrid, Aug 4 (efe-epa).- Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas on Tuesday announced his retirement, bringing his professional career to a close at the age of 39 just over a year since he suffered a heart attack.
Casillas has secured legendary status with Real Madrid and the Spanish national team and at the tail end of his stint won trophies with FC Porto.
“The important thing is the path you take and the people who come along with you on the way, not the destination,” he wrote on Twitter alongside a letter announcing his decision to hang up his gloves. He said he was calling time on a dream career.
Casillas is widely-regarded as Spain’s best ever goalkeeper and became a global icon of the sport.
He was part of Spain’s golden generation and, alongside teammates Andres Iniesta and Xavi, won two Euro Cups and a World Cup in South Africa.
He also captained Real Madrid, with whom he won five LaLiga titles, three Champions Leagues, three Club World Cups, two Copa del Rey trophies, four Spanish Super Cups in a total of 725 games stretched across 16 seasons with the capital-based club.
He decided to play out the final days of his career with Porto, where he won two league titles.
“Today is one of the most important — and at the same time difficult — days in my sporting life: the time has come to say goodbye,” he said in a letter shared on social media, which was adorned with the crests of Real Madrid, the Spanish national team and Porto.
“My journey in the world of football began 30 years ago. It has been a long path and along the way there have been good moments, not so good moments, joy but also sadness. At this point in my life, and with perspective, I can say without a doubt that it was worth it.”
“I have been lucky enough to dedicate myself professionally to something I’m passionate about, which fulfils me and makes me happy — football.”
Tributes came pouring in for the former player, starting with Real Madrid.
“Iker Casillas belongs at the heart of Real Madrid and will do so forever. Real Madrid would like to convey to him and his family the love of our club, which is the club of his life,” the club said in a statement.
Real Madrid’s current captain Sergio Ramos on Twitter said football owed its thanks to Casillas, and described him as a “legend.”EFE-EPA