With those few words in French a tearful Iker Casillas brought to an end his farewell statement yesterday to the Real Madrid fans he has served as first-team goalkeeper and captain for 16 seasons.
Dressed in a dark blue shirt and sitting alone in front of the assembled media at the Bernabeu stadium press room, the 34-year-old, who is leaving for Portuguese side Porto, choked up several times as he thanked Real for “giving me everything”.
“This club also moulded me as a person and helped me to grow,” said Casillas, who joined the Real academy at the age of nine and debuted for the first team at 18.
“Beyond remembering me as a good goalkeeper or a bad goalkeeper I just hope that people remember me for being a good person,” he added.
Casillas was speaking after Spanish daily newspaper El Mundo published an interview with his parents yesterday in which they said their son had been forced out of the club by president Florentino Perez.
Casillas had been the victim of an orchestrated campaign of “vilification” in recent years which eventually prompted his decision to quit, they added.
Real did not immediately respond to a request for comment and Casillas did not take questions after making his statement, in which he did not mention Perez by name.
Real did publish a glowing homage to Casillas on their website yesterday, calling him “the greatest goalkeeper in the history of the club and in the history of Spanish football”.
Iker could have gone wherever he wanted and I wouldn’t have cared if it had been Barcelona because they are gentlemen
However, Casillas’s parents Jose Luis and Mari Carmen said their son, with whom they have a troubled relationship, had been badly treated by Perez since he returned for a second stint as president in 2009.
Perez wanted to bring in Juventus and Italy keeper Gianluigi Buffon instead of Casillas as he preferred taller players, El Mundo quoted Mari Carmen as saying.
He was also upset about a financial dispute with Casillas which prompted the player to take legal action against the club in 2009, the parents added.
“Iker has put up with a great deal, he has suffered psychological pressure and they treated him differently to other players,” Mari Carmen said.
“I have watched him suffer for many years. It is Florentino who is pushing him out because he wanted to end his career at Real Madrid.”
Casillas’s mother said former European champions Porto were not prestigious enough for her son, who won three Champions Leagues titles with Real and captained Spain to triumphs at Euro 2008 and Euro 2012 and the 2010 World Cup.
“It (Porto) is a third-tier team for someone of Iker’s stature,” Mari Carmen added.
“A world champion can’t end up at a club like Porto. Iker could have gone wherever he wanted and I wouldn’t have cared if it had been Barcelona because they are gentlemen.”
The impression remains that the Spain captain is leaving under a cloud after he was whistled by some fans at the Bernabeu last season, when the club failed to win major silverware.
It was telling that no Real officials appeared with him yesterday, in huge contrast to his close friend and former Spain team-mate Xavi Hernandez.
Xavi, 35, left Barcelona for Qatari side Al Sadd at the end of last season and was given a series of rousing send-offs by fans, officials and team-mates at the Nou Camp.
Casillas said he was excited about joining Porto, who are coached by Spanish ex-keeper Julen Lopetegui, and that he would fight hard to win as many trophies as possible.
His decision to leave Real is widely believed to have been prompted by the expected arrival of Manchester United’s David De Gea, the 24-year-old former Atletico Madrid man who is also being groomed to take over as Spain keeper.
Regular playing time for Porto should allow Casillas to extend his international career at least until next year’s European Championship in France.
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