Íker Casillas Fernández, born May 20, 1981 in Móstoles, Madrid, Spain, is a Spanish football goalkeeper. He currently is Real Madrid's and Spain's first choice goalkeeper.
Born in Madrid in 1981, Casillas' entire career has been spent with his hometown club, whom he joined as an eight-year old. Part of the Spanish teams which won the UEFA-CAF Meridian Cup and FIFA World Youth Championship in 1999, his breakthrough year came in 1999/2000, when he replaced the injured Bodo Illgner and played in Madrid's UEFA Champions League triumph in an all-Spanish final against Valencia CF where his senior team mates Raúl González, Fernando Morientes and Steve McManaman scored in a 3-0 win. Loss of form subsequently allowed César Sánchez to take the numbrt 1 jersey but Casillas reclaimed the limelight after substituting the veteran in the 2001/02 Champions League final against Bayer Leverkusen and preserving Madrid's 2-1 lead with a series of fine saves.
Again the first choice in 2002/03, an injury-free season saw Casillas play in 15 of his side's Champions League games as well as all 38 Primera División matches as Madrid reclaimed the Spanish championship.
Still only a youngster in goalkeeping terms, Iker Casillas has none the less gained a huge reputation in European football. A shot-stopper par excellence, the Real Madrid player is gradually developing the commanding presence in his area which could yet see him become an all-time great.
Following his international debut against Sweden, Casillas was an unused substitute at Euro 2000. However, he was first choice two years later at the 2002 World Cup in Korea/Japan, and enjoyed hero status after Spain knocked out the Republic of Ireland in a penalty shoot-out to advance to the quarter-finals.
Casillas played in all eight Group 6 fixtures during Euro 2004 qualifying, conceding just four goals. He then kept goal in both legs of the play-off victory against Norway, keeping a clean sheet in Oslo. He then backstopped his country at the Euro 2004 finals.
In 2003/04, Casillas was virtually ever-present as Madrid relinquished their crown and lost the Spanish Cup final, missing just one league game. However, despite Casillas' stellar performances every week, Real Madrid suffered two trophyless seasons in 2003/04 and 2004/05. Although Casillas was widely considered the team's most consistent performer during this lean patch, there was much gossip and speculation regarding a possible transfer to another club. Manchester United was the name that regularly cropped up in newspapers. It was widely believed that Casillas was unhappy with his salary, which was paltry in comparison to the amounts earned by some of the team's bigger stars. However, to the relief of Real Madrid's millions of fans, the saga ended when the player signed a contract extension on the November 30, 2005, tying him to the club till 2011.
Casillas is expected to be his country Spain's first-choice goalkeeper during the 2006 World Cup to be held in Germany, and is considered one of the best goalkeepers in the world, on a par with-if not better than-the likes of Gianluigi Buffon, Petr Cech and Dida.
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