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HindustanTimes Mon,29 Dec 2014

Football

Real Madrid captain Iker Casillas emerges stronger
AFP
Rio de Janiero, June 28, 2013
First Published: 02:05 IST(28/6/2013)
Last Updated: 02:09 IST(28/6/2013)

Real Madrid captain Iker Casillas has said he is happy once again, after enduring a difficult spell in the second-half of last season when he was frozen out of the Real side by Jose Mourinho.

Mourinho relegated Casillas to the bench in favour of Diego Lopez after he returned from three months out with a hand injury. Casillas admitted he found the situation difficult to cope with after achieving so much in the game.

But he said: "I dealt with it by thinking of the team and wanting what is best for Real Madrid.

"I cried, suffered, felt bad and had nights where I slept little, if at all. I'm a Madrid fan through and through, and before everyone else -- myself, coaches, presidents, directors of football -- the club always comes first."

New Real boss Carlo Ancelotti confirmed on Wednesday that Casillas would certainly be in his plans, although he will need to earn his place in the side like any other player.

The 32-year-old goalkeeper added in the interview that he planned to end his playing career at the Santiago Bernabeu.

"I would love to finish my career at Real Madrid. But I would not cause a scene if, one day, a coach were to come along and decide he doesn't need me," he added. "Only then would I look elsewhere, but I repeat: Real is my priority. This club has given me everything, and it's thanks to them that I'm wearing this Spain shirt today."

Despite his lack of competitive action towards the end of the campaign though, Casillas was still called upon by Spain manager Vicente del Bosque in his squad for the Confederations Cup.

Del Bosque has rotated his three keepers, with Casillas starting the world champions opening match against Uruguay before Pepe Reina and Victor Valdes were given their chance against Tahiti and Nigeria respectively.

Casillas was expected to get the nod for Thursday's semi-final against Italy and he said that having gone through one of the most difficult spells in his career, he was now delighted just to be back on the field.

"The truth is yes, I am happy again. It's always difficult when you find yourself in a situation you've never experienced before. It hasn't been easy, but now I've turned the corner, I'm a different Iker Casillas."


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