Skip to content

Vicente del Bosque doing his part to affirm Iker Casillas’s iconography at Real Madrid

Jun 30, 2013, 4:02 PM EDT

Spain's coach Del Bosque takes part in a training session at Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro Reuters

It’s important to remember that a lack of discussion is what got us here to begin with. The blind assumption that Iker Casillas — or Saint Iker, as he’s known to Real Madrid loyalists — was beyond reproach the greatest goalkeeper in the world enhanced the shock when he was benched midway through last season. Had people, especially those who follow Real Madrid, spoke of Casillas as one of the best goalkeepers in the world (instead of the best), his minor faults would have been closer to the public mind. The debate about his value would have already been happening, if only implicitly.

But because of an exaggerated perception, his 2012-13 fall became particularly pronounced. Instead of a goalkeeper merely losing his job, Casillas’s benching was became a saint’s fall from grace. Or, for more Real Madrid fans, the unjust attack on an idol perpetrated by a pariah, José Mourinho.

It was a heightened discussion, often irrational discussion, but it id have one meaningful positive: We could finally start having meaningful conversations on the merits and drawbacks to Casillas. They’re the type of conversations we’ve been having for years around Gianluigu Buffon, Petr Cech, Manuel Neuer, yet Casillas’s image and renown left him relatively free of such evaluations. Now that Mourinho and his conflicts have moved on from the Bernabéu, we can finally start having such disucssions.

Well, we can have those discussions unless, for some reason, Saint Iker somehow manages to be re-anointed, something these comments from Vicente del Bosque in Marca serve to do. The Spain national team coach, a Real Madrid man through and through (14 years as a player; six as a coach), offered words of defense for his current number one, words that play into some of the hyperbole that surrounds Casillas.

Describing what he’s noticed of Casillas’s emotional state:

It is not easy to overcome a very difficult situation. I have many times imagined him getting up in the mornings and saying to himself “I have been with Real Madrid since I was a boy, and I can’t be compared with any other player in terms of cost and productivity, so why are there a number of people who spend all day long abusing me, insulting me?

Del Bosque’s highlighted a real problem, one that may explain Casillas’s turmoil, though there is an obvious solution. Players shouldn’t get up in the morning telling yourself things like “I can’t be compared with any other player in terms of cost and productivity.” Let’s hope Casillas has never done that, though if he has (or anybody felt the same about him), it would explain the disproportionate incredulity surrounding his benching.

Del Bosque again, on the importance of Casillas:

There are people who simply don’t realise what he means to Real Madrid, but there are many, many more who do.

I clearly don’t. I’ll admit that. However, in the abstract, if a player within a club is so valuable that he can’t be benched, we can’t have an honest dialog about his merits, nor can we move on from that dialog without resurrecting of an apocryphal legacy, the club becomes overly beholden to one man, something that should never happen. Iker Casillas is a part of Real Madrid. He doesn’t define it.

To be clear, the fact that Iker Casillas is a soccer legend at the Bernabéu is not apocryphal. He certainly is. The extent to which that legend influences our evaluation of the Casillas’s 32-year-old self is the problem.

Casillas can both be a legend and imperfect. There’s no need for Madrid loyalists like del Bosque to persist with the insistence he’s beyond reproach.

Latest Posts
  1. ICYMI: Insane 90-yard volley sets Bundesliga record for longest goal

    Sep 23, 2014, 12:14 AM EDT

    Stoppelkamp AP

    Newly-promoted Paderborn is shocking the Bundesliga and providing quite the show in the process.

  2. Americans Abroad Review: English-based Americans struggle, Green shocks parents Bayern

    Sep 22, 2014, 11:28 PM EDT

    Guzan Getty Images

    It was a rough weekend for Americans in England, but outside the country things a little more enjoyable.

  3. WATCH: Men in Blazers show debuts on NBCSN

    Sep 22, 2014, 10:51 PM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-09-22 at 10.50.08 PM

    The full debut of Men In Blazers graced NBC Sports Network tonight with an assist from Adam Richman.

  4. Often mocked by fans, Wenger says Abou Diaby should command respect

    Sep 22, 2014, 10:04 PM EDT

    Diaby Getty Images

    Despite making just sixteen league appearances the last three years, the Gunners manager says Diaby should be commended for his perseverance.

  5. Report: Obafemi Martins close to Seattle extension and raise

    Sep 22, 2014, 8:41 PM EDT

    Martins AP

    Seattle’s lethal striker is set to cap the best year of his career with a new deal and a raise.

  6. Carlos Tevez still can’t get into the Argentinian national team

    Sep 22, 2014, 7:59 PM EDT

    Tevez AP

    The 30-year-old hasn’t been in the Argentinian side since 2011 when he missed a crucial penalty in a shootout with Uruguay.

  7. Great flop or greatest flop? German player executes ridiculous dive

    Sep 22, 2014, 7:07 PM EDT

    Siegert Getty Images

    A dive to end all dives gave the German third division some notoriety.

  8. Fans of Brazilian club throw rocks at team bus after huge loss

    Sep 22, 2014, 6:26 PM EDT

    Palmeiras Getty Images

    Things have gone horribly wrong for storied Brazilian club Palmeiras this year, and fans are making their feelings known.

  9. DC United extends Ben Olsen’s contract after bounceback season

    Sep 22, 2014, 5:54 PM EDT

    Olsen Getty Images

    The two sides agreed on a multi-year deal as Olsen calls DC United “my family and identity.”

  10. Premier League Team of the Week: Find out who starred on Matchday 5

    Sep 22, 2014, 5:15 PM EDT

    Britain Soccer Premier League

    Which 11 players stood out above the rest in Week 5? Find out, here.

  11. Former player accuses ousted Fulham manager Magath of insane cheese story

    Sep 22, 2014, 4:36 PM EDT

    Magath Getty Images

    According to a pair of former players, the old Fulham manager told Brede Hangeland to rub his knee with cheese to reduce inflammation.

  12. Premier League Download: Tale of the newly-promoted teams

    Sep 22, 2014, 3:56 PM EDT

    Leonardo Ulloa AP

    What are Leicester City, Burnley and Queens Park Rangers all about? Our analysts break it down.

  13. Premier League player of the week – Round 5

    Sep 22, 2014, 3:22 PM EDT

    Lampard AP

    Who was crowned the best player of the week in the PL?

  14. VIDEO: Watch the top five Premier League goals – Week 5

    Sep 22, 2014, 2:48 PM EDT

    ManchesterUnited AP

    Which five goals were the best? Pick your best from two chips, a scissor kick, a belter and a curler.

  15. League Cup preview: Five all-Premier League ties await in third round

    Sep 22, 2014, 2:15 PM EDT

    Arsenal v Southampton - Premier League Getty Images

    Gunners and Saints clash, as the third round of the League Cup takes place this week.

  16. FIFA Executive: “The 2022 World Cup in Qatar will not happen”

    Sep 22, 2014, 1:38 PM EDT

    Theo Zwanziger AP

    Zwanziger: “Medics say they cannot accept responsibility with a World Cup taking place under these conditions.”

  17. VIDEO: Men In Blazers analyze the many faces of Louis van Gaal

    Sep 22, 2014, 1:10 PM EDT

    Men In Blazers - Sept. 22

    Joining the NBC Sports crew from the crap part of SoHo, the MiB break down van Gaal’s topsy-turvy day.

  18. Criminal? FIFA’s report into alleged 2018, 2022 World Cup corruption not public

    Sep 22, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

    Sepp Blatter AP

    A report documenting FIFA’s internal investigation into alleged World Cup bidding corruption will not be published.

  19. Arsenal defender Mathieu Debuchy out for three months

    Sep 22, 2014, 11:28 AM EDT

    Debuchy Getty Images

    Gunners defensive woes compounded as Debuchy will be out for over three months.

  20. Premier League Playback: Legendary Lampard strikes, United’s shambolic implosion

    Sep 22, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT

    Lampard Getty Images

    PST’s Lead Writer and Editor takes an in-depth look at the incredible storylines from the PL during Week 5.

Featured video

Week 5: Top five Premier League goals