Casillas abandoned on Portuguese motorway
The long-serving Iker Casillas has left the Bernabeu for the last time, unless he can figure out how to travel the 350 miles back to Madrid all by himself.
President Florentino Perez told Real staff he was taking the much-loved keeper to the park for some extra training, but instead drove west to Portugal, finally stopping the car on the motorway hard shoulder near Oporto.
The unsuspecting Casillas, who spent the journey sticking his head out the window, was shooed from the car and given a pack of biscuits to distract him as Perez turned the vehicle around and returned to Madrid, while behind him the Spain international's quizzical expression gave way to plaintive, desperate whining.
Although the 34-year-old Casillas lacked the youthful exuberance that made Madridistas fall in love with him years ago, many supporters are angry and upset at his treatment by Perez, insisting that such a loyal, dedicated servant deserved better.
He's still relatively young in goalkeeper years. Hopefully some nice club will take him in and feed him
Real Madrid fan Javier Rojas said: "Iker has been here so long, it's like he's part of the family. I'm gutted I won't ever again see him enthusiastically catching a ball, or charging madly around his penalty area. Or sometimes outside his penalty area, the scamp.
"Of course, he's still relatively young in goalkeeper years, so hopefully some nice club will take him in and feed him and make him feel loved again."
"Iker needs to be outside"
In the face of mounting criticism from season ticket holders and goalkeeper lovers, Perez has defended his decision to remove Casillas' microchip, designed to track the player's whereabouts in case he got lost, and to abandon him in an unfamiliar location.
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"Look, Iker needs to be outside," said the 68-year-old. "It would have been cruel to order him to sit on the bench, and at his age he would probably have attacked any younger goalkeepers we decided to bring in.
"I considered having him put to sleep, but I looked into his big, trusting eyes and I just couldn't do it. Instead, I left him near a training ground full of footballs for him to chase. I was tearing up, but I know this was the kindest thing to do."
Casillas' former team-mates told FourFourTwo they will miss the five-time La Liga winner, who they said remained well-groomed and alert until the end.
Defender Sergio Ramos said: "Iker was more than a goalkeeper. He was a friend. I will always remember the happy times we had together, whether winning the Champions League, going for long walks in the woods or giving him scraps from my plate when nobody was looking.
"Iker thought he was people, and to me he was. I wish I'd had a chance to say goodbye, even though he wouldn't have been capable of understanding."