Kiko Casilla thanks Espanyol before departing for Real Madrid

An emotional farewell to Espanyol was offered by Kiko Casilla, as he prepares for the challenges awaiting at Real Madrid.

Real Madrid officially announced the capture of 28-year-old goalkeeper Kiko Casilla from RCD Espanyol on Friday, with the player returning to the club where he began his footballing career as a youngster, having agreed a five-year contract.

There had been some intense haggling over the last few days, after Espanyol president Joan Collet rejected the initial offer from Real Madrid, although that was subsequently raised to a more acceptable fee of €6 million.

Via the official Espanyol website, Collet acknowledged: "It's a loss we weren't expecting. The player spoke with us a few days ago and commented on what an opportunity this was for him, at a sporting level. He asked us that we try to reach an agreement."

"Everyone knows how committed he has been with Espanyol. Already last year he renewed his contract with us, when he could have ended up a free agent, but Real Madrid have always had a fifty-percent clause option." Collet admitted.

Taking the opportunity to bid a fond farewell to Espanyol, 28-year-old Casilla began by emotionally explaining: "It's a difficult moment for me, because I'm leaving a team I love, but this was a unique opportunity. I hope the fans understand that."

"I'm really proud to have been at Espanyol. Now a new stage in my life is opening and I hope to enjoy it." Casilla highlighted, regarding his return to Real Madrid.

Thankful for the growth as a goalkeeper he's enjoyed at Espanyol, satisfied they have received a good fee from his sale, Casilla highlighted: "This club gave me the opportunity to be a professional footballer, to become a man. I've always said before that if I was to leave one day, I wanted them to make money out of any deal, because I'm very grateful to them."

Given that Manchester United refused to negotiate with Real Madrid over David De Gea, followed by the departure of Iker Casillas from the Santiago Bernabeu, the opportunity opened up swiftly for Kiko Casilla.

Ready for  opportunity of starring for Real Madrid, the challenges awaiting, the pressures and the inevitable spotlight he'll be continually under, Casilla concluded: "This train only goes past once and I think I'm always under the magnifying glass. It's not the same kind of pressure as I've been used to so far, but I'm accustomed to pressure."

Casilla is now expected to make the long trip to Australia, where the Real Madrid squad are currently based, for the first stage of their globe trotting pre-season schedule.

Although clearly sad to see Casilla leave, via their official Twitter account, Espanyol wished the goalkeeper "much luck" and offered the parting message: "Thanks for everything!"

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