Iker Casillas has revealed he is hoping to return "home" to Real Madrid in a non-playing capacity after being made an offer by president Florentino Perez

The Spain legend announced his retirement last week, having not played a game since suffering a heart attack in training with Porto on May 1 last year.

Goalkeeping great Casillas progressed through Madrid's youth ranks and made 725 appearances for the club before departing on a sour note after falling out with Perez five years ago.

However, Casillas is now on far better terms with Perez and the 39-year-old has confirmed reports that he could be on his way back to Santiago Bernabeu in an advisory role.

"Nothing is closed yet, but I hope that my new stage will be at Real Madrid," he told Semana magazine. "The departure from Real Madrid was traumatic, but it's my home.

"We broke up, like when a marriage separates and you say everything and there were things that were badly said and out of context, but time passes and everything calms down.

"Once two or three years had passed, I had a calmer relationship with Florentino and he told me, 'you have to be here'.

"Now in August, we'll talk because Real Madrid is my home and my life. Florentino recently called me to make an offer and now, when I return to Madrid, we will talk."

World Cup-winning keeper Casillas was previously in the running to take over as president of the Spanish Football Federation, only to pull out of the race in June.

"I had almost won my candidacy, but political reasons weighed more heavily," he said. "There was an uneven fight and I decided to withdraw."

Lionel Messi described former Real Madrid captain Iker Casillas as "a legend of the game" following his retirement from football. 

Casillas issued a statement on Tuesday to confirm he is calling time on a playing career that spanned more than 20 years. 

The 39-year-old suffered a heart attack during Porto training in May last year and has not played since. 

Casillas won five LaLiga titles and the Champions League on three occasions in a glittering Madrid career, while he was also a key part of Spain's greatest period in international football. 

He earned 167 senior caps for his country and captained them to back-to-back European Championships in 2008 and 2012 and the World Cup triumph in South Africa in 2010. 

Although on the other side of the Clasico rivalry, Messi has no doubt Casillas deserves the highest praise for his career. 

"Iker is retiring, but his status as a legend of the game was secured long ago - not just because he was one of LaLiga's best players, but also because he won everything at international level," Messi told AS. 

In a message to the former goalkeeper, he added: "You're a fantastic goalkeeper and were a really tough opponent, I have to say. 

"Looking back, I think it was a really special rivalry that pushed us to reach new levels every time we came up against each other."

Iker Casillas has announced his retirement from football, calling time on a decorated career with Real Madrid, Porto and Spain.

Casillas, 39 has not played since suffering a heart attack during training with Porto on May 1 last year, for which he required surgery.

In February this year, around the time he announced a subsequently withdrawn bid for the presidency of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), Porto president Pinto da Costa said Casillas had retired.

The player himself did not publicly confirm the move, however, and Porto head coach Sergio Conceicao was last month forced to quash rumours that Casillas was set to turn out for the club in a farewell appearance – although he did take to the field to lift the Taca de Portugal at the weekend after his team-mates beat Benfica 2-1 to complete a domestic double.

In a statement released via social media on Tuesday, Casillas confirmed he would call time on his playing days.

"The important thing is the path you travel and the people who accompany you, not the destination to which it takes you," the 2010 World Cup-winning captain tweeted.

"Because that with work and effort, I think I can say, without hesitation, that is has been the path and the dream destination."

Casillas played four seasons at Porto and has was first choice before being forced to the sidelines.

But it is his exploits for Madrid and Spain for which his career will be remembered by most.

Casillas came through Madrid's academy and established himself in the first team as a teenager, eventually going on to play 725 times for the club in all competitions, a figure bettered by only Raul (741).

He won every trophy possible with Los Blancos, including three Champions Leagues and five LaLiga titles.

Casillas also starred in the historic Spain team that won the country's first World Cup in 2010 and ended a 44-year wait for European Championship success two years earlier. They went on to win Euro 2012 as well.

Widely regarded to be among the finest goalkeepers of his generation, he was Spain's record appearance-maker with 167 caps until Sergio Ramos overtook him last year.

Madrid issued a statement of their own in response to Casillas' retirement, declaring him to be the greatest ever keeper in their rich history.

"Real Madrid C. F. wants to show its recognition, admiration and affection for one of the biggest legends of our club and of world football," the statement read. 

"The best goalkeeper in the history of Real Madrid and Spanish football joined us at the age of nine. He was formed here and defended our shirt for 25 years, becoming one of our most emblematic captains of all time.

"Iker Casillas earned the love of Madridismo and is a symbol of the values that Real Madrid represents. Today one of the most important footballers in our 118 years of history calls it a day as a professional player, a player we love and admire, a goalkeeper who has made the Real Madrid legacy bigger with his work and exemplary behaviour both on and off the pitch."

Madrid's statement added: "Iker Casillas belongs at the heart of Real Madrid and will do so forever. Real Madrid would like to convey to him and his family the love of our club, which is the club of his life."

Football must not let its powerful opposition to racism fade into the background, Porto captain Danilo Pereira has warned.

The death of George Floyd in police custody in the United States in May sparked an increase in action by campaigners against police brutality and racial injustice, along with growing support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

It has led to sports including football stepping up efforts to banish discrimination, with prominent action being taken in England's Premier League where the gesture of taking a knee has preceded every match since lockdown ended.

There have been examples of players kneeling in other European leagues, too, following the lead set by NFL star Colin Kaepernick, whose protests during the US national anthem in the 2016 season were criticised by President Donald Trump.

Danilo, who has been linked with a possible move to Arsenal, told Stats Perform News: "I think we should be doing more because sometimes people forget about these things, like, four or five weeks later they forget about this.

"So I think we should do more, because as players we have a lot of influence in other people.

"When we do something big, other people follow us so we could do something more.

"This is a really difficult issue to speak about because some people don't understand what we are talking about, because they think we are only talking about black people.

"But this is not only about black people, it's about every other race in the world, so I think we should do more and also other people should do more."

There is a school of thought that footballers should leave the pitch when racism occurs, with UEFA's three-step protocol designed to tackle the issue.

Danilo, who led Porto to the 2020 Primeira Liga title, says players would be better carrying on amid abuse, suggesting stopping games as a reaction is letting the racists win.

"I think the best way is to continue to play and to score goals," Danilo said. "If you score and if you win the game they will be mad, so this is the best way. But I understand the people who leave the pitch, who have a different reaction – sometimes to shoot the ball into the crowd.

"I think when they shout [at] you they want this reaction from you, to leave the pitch, to be mad. So, for me, if you do that, the people who do that get the reaction they want."

Danilo Pereira believes he would fit in well with Arsenal's style of play amid continued speculation linking him with a move to the Gunners.

Arsenal are rumoured to be weighing up a move for the midfielder, whose contract at Porto reportedly contains a €60million (£53.8m) release clause.

The Portugal international has been impressed with the football Arsenal have played under Mikel Arteta, who has led the club to the FA Cup final.

And he is confident he could slot into Arteta's side with little difficulty and realise a dream of playing in the Premier League.

"I think he [Arteta] is doing a really, really, good job there," Danilo told Stats Perform News. 

"He is a really good coach who started as the second coach at [Manchester] City, so he has a little experience and Arsenal play very good football and I think he is doing very well there.

"He is a Spanish coach, he is a bit similar to Portuguese coaches, they also want to play with the ball and improve with the ball, so I think he is a good coach.

"The style I think I can fit there, the way he plays also thinking on the ball, the team always has to be together I think it is a good way to play.

"Of course I like to be here in Porto to be here in my country, but I want to be in a better league like the Premier League.

"I always dreamed about playing in that league. I played also in Serie A but I think the Premier League is a huge league and one day I want to play there, to improve to be a better player. I think it's the best league in the world."

Asked about comparisons to Patrick Vieira from former Portugal defender Abel Xavier, Danilo said: "It is an honour to be compared to this kind of legend.

"I also have to think Abel Xavier for these words, sometimes I don't like to be compared to another football player but to me it is an honour to see Abel Xavier talking about me in that way.

"I grew up seeing Patrick Vieira playing in Arsenal so he is one of my idols so it is very good to hear that from Abel Xavier."

Iker Casillas does not have a contract or the medical authorisation to play in one of Porto's final Primeira Liga games, says head coach Sergio Conceicao.

Real Madrid and Spain legend Casillas suffered a heart attack in a training session in May 2019 and has since retired as a player.

Porto wrapped up the Primeira Liga title with two games to spare by beating Sporting CP 2-0 on Wednesday.

Supporters subsequently posted '#IkerCampeao' on social media in a bid to get the 39-year-old goalkeeper an appearance before the conclusion of the season so he can be part of the triumph.

However, Conceicao criticised the movement because Casillas is not eligible to play for Porto anymore.

"People who ask for this have no idea what is going on. Iker cannot play," Conceicao said ahead of their meeting with Moreirense on Monday.

"I don't think he has medical authorisation and he has no contract with Porto, it is finished. That has nothing to do with it. We could make a contract for a day or a month, but he has to be in a healthy state. It is not possible.

"People are poorly informed and then they create these movements… People have the right to write what they want, but then such movements emerge."

Porto president Jorge Nuno Pinto da Costa said Casillas had retired from playing upon him launching a bid to become the president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation in February.

Casillas pulled out of the running in May but has been linked with a return to Madrid as an advisor to club president Florentino Perez.

Conceicao said: "Iker was a super important player for all of us. If his return to Real Madrid is confirmed, he is in good health and has a lot of strength for this new project."

Francisco Trincao is a great talent who can prosper at Barcelona, according to Danilo Pereira.

Barca announced the signing of Trincao back in January, the 20-year-old penning a five-year contract to join from Braga for a €31million fee.

The Portuguese forward is to finish the season in his homeland before heading to Camp Nou and has scored eight goals in 25 league appearances, in the process impressing Porto midfielder Danilo.

For Danilo, the key for his compatriot when he heads to Spain is having the right coach at Barca to aid his development.

"He's a great talent, a great talent," the Portugal international told Stats Perform News.

Danilo was in the Porto side that lost 2-1 at home to Trincao's Braga back on January 17.

"I think he's only 20 years old but he's playing very well in Braga, scoring a lot of goals. He has a lot to improve, but he's a great player," Danilo said.

"If he has the confidence and if he has a good coach for him, to help him grow, I think he will do really well in Barcelona."

Danilo was on target on Wednesday as Porto clinched their 29th Primeira Liga title with a 2-0 victory over rivals Sporting CP.

They have capitalised on a collapse by Benfica to be crowned champions again and Danilo has praised the impact Iker Casillas, the legendary goalkeeper whose retirement was confirmed in February, has had this season.

The former Spain captain moved to Porto in 2015 but had not played since suffering a heart attack during a training session last May. However, having joined the backroom staff, Casillas has continued to have a major influence.

"I like Casillas so much – he's always trying to help the youngsters," Danilo said when the Portuguese season was paused due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"He's a leader for us. I think he's a great man who tries all the time to help the people, to help the coach and everybody. For me, Iker Casillas is a legend."

Porto captured their 29th Primeira Liga title following the stunning capitulation of Portuguese rivals Benfica.

Boasting former Real Madrid defender Pepe, Porto celebrated a second league trophy in three seasons thanks to Wednesday's 2-0 victory over fierce foes Sporting CP.

Danilo Pereira and Moussa Marega scored in the second half to ensure Porto dethroned defending champions Benfica midweek with two matches remaining as iconic goalkeeper Iker Casillas heads into retirement.

Porto have been almost flawless since the season resumed in June following the coronavirus-enforced break in March, winning six of their eight matches, including five in a row.

Benfica, meanwhile, have only managed three victories since returning to action last month and just four wins from 13 league games since February to slip eight points adrift of Porto.

"The team is to be congratulated for what we did, and not only in this game," Pepe said. "Sporting were in very good form but we knew how to cancel out their strong points. This is down to the hard work and sacrifice our squad put in, we never stopped, not even during the confinement.

"What made us champions? Above all, the togetherness we had. We know we represent a very important region of the country and we all identify with this region. When things get tough we use this strength to overcome adversities. If I'm not mistaken, in the first game of the season against Gil Vicente [a defeat] I said we lose together and we win together, and today is proof of that. Not only us the players, but the entire club and all the fans.

"We didn't have holidays, we were always working, striving for perfection. It's difficult, but we were always striving for it. The spirit we had, the belief in our coach, he always believed. Today, here, we see the result."

Porto head coach Sergio Conceicao added: "We won one of the most important titles in Porto's history. I'd like to dedicate this title to my family, who suffer a lot, my wife and my children and my parents."

Arsenal could be getting their hands on the next Patrick Vieira if they manage to sign Porto captain Danilo Pereira.

That is the view of Abel Xavier, who tipped his Portuguese compatriot to shine in the Premier League if given the chance.

Defensive midfielder Pereira, who moved to Porto from Maritimo in 2015, has been heavily linked with the Gunners, with whom Vieira won three league titles.

And former Portugal international Xavier thinks it would be a good move for both Pereira and Arsenal.

"Danilo I think is a great midfield player who gives a lot of balance in the team," Xavier told Stats Perform News.

"He plays very simple football and his physical presence is important on the field.

"When I look back, he's a kind of player like Patrick Vieira when we're talking about a physical presence.

"I think if Arsenal are interested in him, for the style they play at the moment, a team trying to use forward-thinking players who are always very positive, it's very important to have balanced players – Danilo is this kind of player.

"I think it can be very good for both if there is a concrete interest."

Porto turned down a bid from Monaco for Pereira's services in July 2019.

 

Spain's World Cup-winning captain Iker Casillas has announced he has pulled out of the running to be the next president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), citing a need for unity amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Real Madrid great Casillas confirmed his intention to stand for the position in February, but his withdrawal means Luis Rubiales is expected to be re-elected unopposed in August.

Casillas, who won Euro 2008 and 2012 alongside the 2010 World Cup with Spain, explained via a Twitter post his decision was in part due to "the exceptional social, economic and health situation that our country is suffering".

"This makes the elections take a back seat," he added.  "I think it is time to add and not divide."

The former Madrid goalkeeper, who made 167 senior appearances for his country, insists the decision to pull out does not mean a "closed door for the future" and said he could opt to run for the position further down the line.

"I wanted a fair, transparent and truly participatory electoral process, looking for the best for Spanish football," he said.

"I hope that in the next elections it can happen with me or with other candidates."

Spain has been one of the worst-affected countries of the pandemic, with over 290,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Of those returning a positive test, 27,136 people have died.

Casillas won five LaLiga titles and three Champions Leagues with Madrid before departing his boyhood club for Porto in 2015.

The 39-year-old suffered a heart attack in May 2019 and was later added to the club's backroom team, with Porto president Jorge Nuno Pinto da Costa announcing Casillas had retired from playing in February.

Football without fans in attendance is like eating a salad without a dressing on it, according to Porto boss Sergio Conceicao.

The Primeira Liga will return from its coronavirus-enforced suspension on Wednesday and all games will be played behind closed doors.

Porto sit top of the table, one point clear of Benfica, and will get their 2019-20 campaign back under way away at surprise package Famalicao.

Conceicao is not a fan of fans being shut out of matches, joking that he will even miss the whistles from opposition supporters.

"It will be different to play without a crowd. It will be like being without the condiments to make a good salad. Eating a salad without oil, vinegar and salt is not the same," Conceicao told the media.

"We have to go in there with the same desire, as if we had a packed stadium with the support of the fans. It's going to be different, that's for sure.

"The incentive that gives a boost to the player … I think is missing. Even the whistles are missing.

"It's not the same thing, but we have to look at the situation and the recommendations and face things as they are."

Conceicao said his players kept up their hard work during the league's suspension and he hopes they can maintain the momentum they had prior to the break.

"We never stopped. We didn't go on vacation, we were working all the time," he said.

"Every day we had work and that in that in itself demonstrates the desire and hope that we had for the league to resume, so that on the field we could show what we are and that we want to be the best team on the pitch.

"I hope the momentum carries on. When the stoppage occurred the team was well, had won important games, we had recovered some points in the table which were essential in the fight for the main objected."

Iker Casillas revealed a regret about the way he said goodbye to Real Madrid as he promised to return. 

The great Spanish goalkeeper played his final match for Madrid five years ago this weekend, leaving the club to join Porto. 

He left at the age of 34 after a 16-year first-team career at the Santiago Bernabeu, but to this day Casillas is sorry for the solitary nature of his exit. 

"I've rarely spoken about my departure from Real Madrid," Casillas wrote on Instagram. 

"I gave a press conference alone, a mistake, and I left. 5 years have passed since then. 5 years since I crossed the border that took me to our neighbouring country: Portugal. 

"I needed to feel something different again. Having a new environment, giving up being so exposed to criticism and wanting to improve. 

"So friends, all players (whether good or bad) want to improve. And for this you have to improve the physical and the mental side. And the latter was important. In Porto I felt it again. Let them not tell you other things." 

Casillas posted his message in the early hours of Sunday, accompanied by a picture of himself from his final match for Madrid, a 7-3 victory against Getafe on May 23, 2015. 

His message added: "I already knew it was going to be my last game. The Last Match. #iwillcomeback #madrid #buenasnochesmundo" 

Casillas said in February he intended to stand as a candidate in the next elections to decide the president of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF). 

He suffered a heart attack in training with Porto last May and has since retired as a player. 

Over his career, he made 167 appearances for Spain and captained his country to success at the 2010 World Cup and the European Championships of 2008 and 2012. 

With Madrid, his honours included five LaLiga titles and three Champions League successes. 

Barcelona are reportedly looking at Jadon Sancho as an alternative if they cannot land Neymar.

Neymar is linked with a return to Camp Nou from Paris Saint-Germain, where he arrived from Barcelona for a world-record €222million in 2017.

But the LaLiga giants have options.

 

TOP STORY – SANCHO AN ALTERNATIVE TO NEYMAR FOR BARCELONA

Borussia Dortmund star Sancho is an alternative to Neymar for Barcelona, according to Sport.

The cover of the Spanish daily says Barca are thinking of Sancho if they are unable to bring Neymar back to the club.

Sancho was enjoying an incredible season with 14 goals and 15 assists in 23 Bundesliga games when the campaign was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

ROUND-UP

- Linked with a move for RB Leipzig star Timo Werner, Liverpool may not be trying to sign the forward. The Mirror reports the Premier League leaders look almost certain not to do any transfer spending in the close season.

- Lyon forward Moussa Dembele has enjoyed another good season with the Ligue 1 club. The Manchester Evening News reports Dembele would find it hard to turn down a move to Manchester United in the next transfer window.

- Miralem Pjanic could be set for a Juventus exit. Marca reports the pieces are falling into place for the midfielder to join Barcelona. It says another player could enter the deal if Arthur does not agree to leave the LaLiga giants.

- Staying at Barcelona and Sport reports the door is open for the club to land Layvin Kurzawa on a free at season's end with Porto's Alex Telles seemingly nearing a move to Paris Saint-Germain.

- Gianluigi Donnarumma is out of contract at Milan in 2021, but La Gazzetta dello Sport reports the goalkeeper could extend his deal by a year and plan a path forward, with the coronavirus pandemic likely to impact the upcoming transfer window.

- Rayan Cherki, 16, scored three goals in 12 games for Lyon this season, seemingly leading to some interest. AS reports the teenage forward is being watched by Real Madrid.

The career of a so-called 'wonderkid' in football sounds straightforward – you get spotted early on by a big club, your precocious skills see you establish yourself in the first team and then go on to enjoy an illustrious career at the top.

But we all know that, in reality, it doesn't quite work like that. Each situation is nuanced and, for every Kylian Mbappe there is a Kaz Patafta.

Australia's captain during the Under-17 World Cup in 2005, Patafta will be the first to say expectations were high for him after landing a three-year contract with Benfica as a teenager.

And, for what it's worth, his potential was even given 'video game approval', Championship Manager 2007 ranking him similarly to Gareth Bale after he'd trained with Guus Hiddink's pre-2006 World Cup squad.

But Patafta's career in professional football ended at age 22 having never played a top-flight European match in a rueful case of what might have been.

Michael Vick entered the NFL 19 years ago on Tuesday, a quarterback considered to be so talented that the Atlanta Falcons traded up to land him in the 2001 NFL Draft.

Future Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson was also drafted on April 21, 2001 and record-breaking quarterback Drew Brees became his team-mate at the San Diego Chargers.

Bayern Munich delivered one of the most devastating first-half displays in Champions League history, while Philip Humber pitched the third perfect game in Chicago White Sox history.

We take a look back at the major events that occurred on this day in previous years.

 

2001 - Vick becomes new Falcons quarterback

Vick only played 20 games in college at Virginia Tech, but the Falcons had seen enough to send second and third-round selections, and wide receiver Tim Dwight, to take the top pick off the Chargers' hands.

In six seasons with Atlanta, Vick was named to the Pro Bowl three times, twice taking the Falcons to the playoffs. However, in 2007, Vick admitted to financing a dogfighting ring and was jailed for 23 months. Upon his release, he played for the Philadelphia Eagles, retiring in 2017 after spells with the New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Chargers spent their first pick - the fifth overall - on running back Tomlinson, while they grabbed Brees in the second round, though it was with the New Orleans Saints where he would emerge as a truly elite quarterback.

 

2012 - Humber's perfect game

White Sox pitcher Humber had an MLB record of just 16-23 and was yet to complete a game when he came to the mound against the Seattle Mariners.

What followed was the 21st perfect game in MLB history across 96 pitches as Humber joined the likes of Cy Young, Sandy Koufax and Roy Halladay.

Humber, who received a congratulatory call from noted White Sox fan US President Barack Obama, finished with nine strikeouts, while the other batters were retired with five groundouts and 13 flyouts.

2015 - Bayern batter Porto

Pep Guardiola's Bayern Munich were on the brink of being eliminated from the 2014-15 Champions League at the quarter-final stage when they lost 3-1 to Porto in the first leg.

However, back in Bavaria, they soon turned the tie on its head by scoring five times in the opening 40 minutes, eventually cruising to a 6-1 success - and a 7-4 aggregate victory - to reach the last four.

Guardiola's old side Barcelona would beat Bayern in the semi-finals, though, going on to lift the trophy by defeating Juventus in the final.

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