Former Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas has admitted he harbours one or two regrets about the way he handled his 2015 exit from the club, but says his decision to leave was one he had to make to ensure he started enjoying football again.
Casillas marked his departure with an emotional farewell press conference after making the decision to join Porto in the summer of 2015.
He retired from professional football in February this year after his 2019 health scare ruled him out of football indefinitely, and posting on Instagram on Saturday evening, the legendary Spanish keeper reflected on his decision to leave his boyhood club.
“I rarely spoke about my departure from Real Madrid. I gave a press conference alone, mistake, and I left. Five years have passed since then,” Casillas said, alongside an image of him waving goodbye after a 7-3 victory over Getafe.
“Five years that I crossed the border that took me to our neighbouring country: Portugal.
“I needed to feel like myself again. Having a new environment, giving up being so exposed to criticism and wanting to improve. So friends, all players (be they good or bad) want to improve. And for this you have to improve physically and mentally. And the latter was important.
“In Porto I felt it again. Don’t let them tell you other things. This photo is from Real Madrid vs Getafe, season 14/15. I already knew it was going to be my last game. The last match.”
Casillas has rarely discussed his exit publicly, but in 2016, he blamed it on the ‘strange atmosphere’ around the camp at the time. There were reports of a fractious relationship with incoming manager Rafael Benitez, and Casillas departed just over a month after his appointment.
“I knew that my time at Real Madrid was coming to an end in January or February 2015,” he said, as quoted by AS. “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. I had thought about leaving Madrid after winning the Champions League in 2014. Due to circumstance, Madrid decided to sell Diego Lopez, but the atmosphere was very strange.”
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