Spain manager Vicente del Bosque has moved to back goalkeeper Iker Casillas after the side’s shock 5-1 defeat to the Netherlands in their opening World Cup game.
Casillas was largely at fault for two of the Dutch goals on the night, leading to widespread calls for the long-time starter to be dropped, but Del Bosque is sticking firmly with his captain.
‘Iker Casillas proved his captainship and his commitment to Spain,’ he said. ‘By saying this I don’t think I’ll be unveiling any secret, but when I finished the press conference I entered the changing room and Casillas was talking to the rest of the team, who were sombrely silent.
‘He was taking the blame for some things but also saying his teammates were partly to blame for what happened. He was setting the basis for our recovery process.’
Spain’s all-time most capped player, Casillas has been the side’s uncontested starter since taking over from Santiago Canizares in 2002, captaining the ‘Golden Generation’ during their unprecedented run of success which began with victory at Euro 2008.
One of the most decorated players in European football, having spent his entire career at Real Madrid, the 33-year-old however has found himself limited to a backup role in La Liga following the signing of Diego Lopez in January 2013, with his only regular outings over the past season coming in the Champions League and Copa del Rey.
It’s understandable as such that many have been calling for the introduction of Manchester United’s David de Gea even going into the tournament, as La Roja search for an unprecedented fourth consecutive major international title, but Del Bosque’s loyalty to his former club goalkeeper has so far proved nearly impossible to break.
The side’s second Group B game against Chile on Wednesday is now most certainly a must-win matchup and should Casillas falter again, then the calls for the legendary keeper to pass on his gloves to his understudy will be more intense than ever.