Iker Casillas has announced his retirement from football, calling time on a decorated career with Real Madrid, Porto and Spain.
Casillas, 39 has not played since suffering a heart attack during training with Porto on May 1 last year, for which he required surgery.
In February this year, around the time he announced a subsequently withdrawn bid for the presidency of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), Porto president Pinto da Costa said Casillas had retired.
The player himself did not publicly confirm the move, however, and Porto head coach Sergio Conceicao was last month forced to quash rumours that Casillas was set to turn out for the club in a farewell appearance – although he did take to the field to lift the Taca de Portugal at the weekend after his team-mates beat Benfica 2-1 to complete a domestic double.
In a statement released via social media on Tuesday, Casillas confirmed he would call time on his playing days.
“The important thing is the path you travel and the people who accompany you, not the destination to which it takes you,” the 2010 World Cup-winning captain tweeted.
“Because that with work and effort, I think I can say, without hesitation, that is has been the path and the dream destination.”
Casillas played four seasons at Porto and has was the first choice before being forced to the sidelines. But it is his exploits for Madrid and Spain for which his career will be remembered most.
Casillas came through Madrid’s academy and established himself in the first team as a teenager, eventually going on to play 725 times for the club in all competitions, a figure bettered only Raul (741).
He won every trophy possible with Los Blancos, including three Champions Leagues and five LaLiga titles.
Casillas also starred in the historic Spain team that won the country’s first World Cup in 2010 and ended a 44-year wait for European Championship success two years earlier. They went on to win Euro 2012 as well.
Widely regarded to be among the finest goalkeepers of his generation, he was Spain’s record appearance-maker with 167 caps until Sergio Ramos overtook him last year.
Madrid issued a statement of their own in response to Casillas’ retirement, declaring him to be the greatest ever keeper in their rich history.
“Real Madrid C. F. wants to show its recognition, admiration and affection for one of the biggest legends of our club and of world football,” the statement read.
“The best goalkeeper in the history of Real Madrid and Spanish football joined us at the age of nine. He was formed here and defended our shirt for 25 years, becoming one of our most emblematic captains of all time.
“Iker Casillas earned the love of Madridismo and is a symbol of the values that Real Madrid represents. Today one of the most important footballers in our 118 years of history calls it a day as a professional player, a player we love and admire, a goalkeeper who has made the Real Madrid legacy bigger with his work and exemplary behaviour both on and off the pitch.”
Madrid’s statement added: “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.”