Appearing at his third FIFA World Cup, Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas has reached the pinnacle of his profession, enjoying one of the most impressive tournaments of his career and walking away with the adidas Golden Glove as the tournament’s most impressive goalkeeper.
Casillas endured the worst possible start to the tournament against Group H opponents Switzerland, with La Roja conceding a goal against the run of play and falling to a shock defeat. It was not long before the Spain captain's powers of concentration came under question, although he refused to shy away from the cameras, preferring to do his talking on the pitch. Since then Casillas has conceded only a single goal, and that from a deflection against Chile, with his immaculate keeping proving crucial to Spain’s run to the Final.
With Vicente Del Bosque's team winning their last four games on their way to the Final by a single goal, Casillas’s solidity between the posts has taken on even greater importance. One of his most crucial saves was the penalty stop from Paraguay’s Oscar Cardozo in the quarter-finals, a hugely important intervention that he capped by pulling off two vital point-blank stops in the closing minutes. The Real Madrid custodian was at it again in the semi-final against Germany, producing excellent saves against Piotr Trochowski and Toni Kroos as Spain once again won by the narrowest of margins.
Now 29, Casillas once again showed his value to his nation in the Final against the Netherlands, displaying all his powers of concentration in not one but two one-on-ones with Arjen Robben and conjuring up two more great saves.
Clutching the FIFA World Cup Trophy in his arms, Casillas could barely conceal his delight at also receiving the adidas Golden Glove. “It’s a real honour,” he told FIFA.com. “It’s a real honour and a pleasure. This is one of those awards that you look for but don’t expect to win. Now that I’ve won it, it’s time to go out and enjoy it.”
Unbeaten in the knockout phase, Casillas was his usual modest self as he took stock of his achievements in South Africa. “That’s what we’re here for,” he said. “A goalkeeper’s job is all about stopping your opponents from scoring, no matter how, and it’s a team job that you work on with your defence and which everyone deserves some recognition for. I’m so happy. It’s been an unforgettable night.”
Not surprisingly, Casillas found it difficult to contain his emotions at lifting the FIFA World Cup Trophy following the hard-fought victory over the Dutch. Still tearful after celebrating Andres Iniesta’s dramatic winner, Iker had this to say: “This is something you dream about as a child, winning a cup that you’ve seen Brazil, France and Italy win. It’s something you see in videogames and on TV. It’s something you see everywhere but can never picture happening to you. To be honest, I still can’t believe it.”