Happy birthday, Iker Casillas.
The legendary ‘keeper celebrates turning 41 years old today and few shot-stoppers have stood between the sticks with quality comparable to his since he hung up his gloves back in 2020.
The simple fact of the matter is that Casillas is one of the greatest goalkeepers of the modern era, marshalling – and often captaining – legendary Real Madrid and Spain teams from the back.
The brilliance of Iker Casillas
Few number ones can lay claim to a more impressive trophy cabinet than Casillas with the World Cup, European Championship and Champions League all taking pride of place on his record.
And while Casillas might not have had as much to do as some of his contemporaries given the quality lining up in front of him, that didn’t make him any less of a hero when he was called upon.
After all, the mark of a great goalkeeper in a world-class side is their ability to produce a stunning save even if they’ve spent the last 60 minutes or more simply twiddling their thumbs.
You always knew that no matter how much Real or Spain might have been dominating a game that Casillas wouldn’t be any less effective at bailing them out of trouble because of it.
And there’s no denying that the quality in which Casillas excelled the most was his shot-stopping, defying his relatively smaller frame for a goalkeeper to produce some truly mind-blowing blocks.
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Casillas’ legendary stop vs Sevilla
So, in celebration of Casillas blowing 41 candles out on his birthday cake, we wanted to look back on what is widely regarded as his greatest save of all: the 2009/10 stop against Sevilla.
First and foremost, we’ll skate over the fact that it transpired in a 2-1 defeat for Los Blancos and focus in on Casillas’ remarkable acrobatics to deny Diego Perotti from point-blank range.
That’s because the beauty of Casillas’ magnum opus comes in the fact that it was so unexpected and we’d even wager that many a professional goalkeeper wouldn’t even have attempt to save it.
With Perotti having been presented with an open goal at the back post, Casillas followed up what seemed like a lost cause by hauling himself across his line on a hope and a prayer.
The result? Well, come on, we wouldn’t be here if Casillas was just picking the ball out of his net, so be sure to check out the moment that he denied Perotti when it seemed impossible down below:
Throwback to this legendary save from Iker Casillas vs Sevilla. A reminder why he’s the best of all time pic.twitter.com/o8vXX0Kbap
— Ømar (@Casillas_Era7) May 19, 2020
Classic Casillas. What a block.
Casillas made his luck
You often see goalkeepers not even diving for shots under certain circumstances in the modern game, but Casillas’ legendary save goes to show that it’s always worth gambling on something coming off.
Besides, as much as Casillas made his own luck with an elastic leap across his goal line, we’d be naive not to at least acknowledge that Perotti’s lacklustre finishing played a role in the save.
According to Marca, the former Real shot-stopper even played it coy about the save himself by saying: “I suppose some of it was down to me”. Come on, Iker, give yourself some credit!
Is Casillas’ other Sevilla save better?
Nevertheless, some may even hold the opinion that Casillas’ uncannily similar save against the same opponents at the same ground two seasons later was actually better. Judge for yourself:
Iker Casillas save vs Sevilla pic.twitter.com/4TVzjkPUAe
— Jackson (@deniznycm) December 12, 2018
Either way, the moral of the story is that Casillas is one of the greatest shot-stoppers of the 21st century and his never-give-up attitude even when a goal looked inevitably played a massive role in that. Happy birthday, Iker!
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