Iker Casillas rolling back the years at Porto
Background image: Cédric23170, CC BY-SA 4.0
Iker Casillas could have retired after spending 16 successful years with Real Madrid. The legendary Spanish goalkeeper won almost all there is to win in football with the club and the Spanish national team. So at the ripe age of 34, he could have chosen to hang up his gloves when his time in the Spanish capital came to an end in 2015. But he decided to move to Porto in search of more success.
So far, he has found some as he helped the side to the Portuguese title last season. It was the first league title for the club in five years and was particularly special for Casillas who played a key role in goal. Yet, it is not likely to be the last. On course to repeat the feat this term, the Azuis e brancos want to add the Portuguese Cup and even the Champions League to the list.
A peep into history shows that the Portuguese side is capable of pulling a surprise in Europe. It did that before in 2004 when it upstaged European heavyweights to lift the continental silverware under a certain Jose Mourinho.
But a quarter-final doubleheader against last season's finalist, Liverpool, must first be negotiated before raising hopes of emerging continental champions again. Casillas has expressed his desire to help the Portuguese giants achieve any possible success they can achieve and he is backing it up with good performances on the pitch. He pulled off several top-notch saves to deny Roma in the last round of the Champions League as his team progressed to the next round instead. His voice will also be vital to the team in the dressing room as he will provide sound advice to the players based on his experience in the game.
The club has rewarded him by renewing his contract for another year, with the option to add one more. That will take his stay at Porto to the summer of 2021. He will be 40 by then and has stated that he would like to retire in Portugal. In a world where most players begin to wind down their careers once they clock 30 or move to the so called 'retirement leagues’ Casillas has stayed with Porto. The veteran goalkeeper who turns 38 in May is still displaying those qualities that endeared him to the fans at the Santiago Bernabeu and won over the admiration of a nation.
With Porto still in with a chance of winning three trophies this season, the Spaniard can hope to add another piece of silverware to his resume. That will be nothing more than he deserves. The 2010 World Cup winner has become a symbol of what is right about the game. He is proof that any young player out there can have a long and successful career at the top level of the game.
Young goalkeepers like Kepa Arrizabalaga and other young players as a whole have a lot to learn from people like Casillas. Having played at the highest level with some of the best players in the world and won the biggest trophies that are on offer in the game, he remains humble and hardworking just as he is hungry for success. That is why he is still gunning for more success at a time when most of his mates have retired from the game a long time ago.