The image of Iker Casillas sitting alone in the dark press room of the Santiago Bernabéu with tears streaming down his face will live forever in the memory of Real Madrid and its fans. It was a quick, stark and austere act, wildly different from the lavish goodbyes of legends like Xavi and Gerrard. Casillas has always been a quiet, humble guy who prefers to keep a low profile rather than act like the superstar that he is. Case in point, he showed up to his final press conference alone – without his friends or family. He drove up in his car, said his words, thanked everyone and then drove back home.
It was a somber end, but it seemed fitting given the sour relationship between Casillas and Real Madrid President Florentino Pérez. Apparently Casillas preferred it this way, thinking that having some sort of large event with members of the club’s brass would be hypocritical after the tense stand-off the last few days.
Then shit started to get weird.
First, the international press jumped all over the club. The powerful French sports daily’ L’Equipe, for example, called Florentino Pérez “Ungrateful”. Just hours after Casillas’s goodbye press conference ended, reports started filtering out that the club was planning another goodbye event for the very next day. Pérez wanted to appear next to Casillas to prove that he supported him. Casillas, being the nice man that he is, agreed to the last-minute event.
When word got out that the club had prepared a more proper “goodbye,” thousands of Madridistas showed up and demanded to be let in to the stadium. The club acquiesced and what followed was a bizarre display of cynicism. Amid chants of “Florentino Dimision” (Florentino resign!), Casillas sat and watched as Pérez blatantly lied and told the world that if it were up to him, Casillas would’ve retired at Real Madrid: “Iker is gone because that was his wish. No one at the club asked him to leave”.
Right. And that asshole from “Fashionable Male” thought the girl was 36.
All this came a day after Spanish newspaper El Mundo published a bombshell interview with Iker Casillas’ parents. It was chock-full of juicy tidbits including an accusation that Pérez was obsessed with tall men because he himself is so short (Pérez has famously always dreamt of buying the very tall Gigi Buffon). More importantly, they spoke openly about a previously-unknown legal issue between Casillas’ family and Real Madrid.
The details are a little fuzzy, but basically it boils down to this (remember, this is all according to Casillas’ parents):
- Casillas had a very difficult time negotiating a contract extension with Pérez way back in 2005. This poisoned Casillas’ relationship with his then-agent Gines Carvajal, who he suspected was a little too close to Pérez and wasn’t looking out for his best interests.
- Casillas fired his agent and then signed another contract extension in 2008, under the presidency of Ramón Calderón. Carvajal claimed he was owed his cut of that deal. Casillas’s parents, who were involved in a company that managed Casillas’s assets, claimed it was the club’s responsibility to pay the agent’s fees.
- There was a lawsuit involved which dragged on for three years. By the end, Casillas asked his parents to withdraw the lawsuit and he paid the money himself.
- Since then, Casillas and his parents are not on speaking terms.
This legal dispute came as a shock because no one had heard about it.
So Casillas agreed to not cause a stir and attended his own weird second farewell and watched as his former president made him look bad by shamelessly lying to everybody’s faces. When it was his turn to speak he said “It’s clear that …” and hesitated for a second gathering his thoughts. He must’ve been livid, but he bit his tongue. When he spoke again he simply said, “It’s clear that this is the definitive one! I want to thank the president for his words and to all the people who came … once again”.
Now Casillas is finally at Porto, where thousands of jubilant fans were there to greet him, while Real Madrid no longer follows him on Twitter.