Iker Casillas, 35, took his first steps that would lead him to eventual world stardom in Real Madrid’s respected La Fábrica youth system.
At sixteen, the Spaniard had already lived through his first Champions League fixture. In 2000, he became the youngest goalkeeper to dispute its final when Real Madrid cruised past Valencia days after his 19th birthday.
Despite his poor performance in ’01-’02, he proved clinical and decisive with three spectacular saves when coming off the bench due to César Sánchez sustained injuries at the height of the Champions League final encounter against Bayer Leverkusen.
His string of vital saves and agile reflexes earned him a “life contract” at his boyhood club. He relentlessly surpassed Paco Buyo’s record of matches played for a goalkeeper and has since become Los Blancos’ most-capped goalkeeper with 725 appearances. All this achieved at 27 years old.
In total, Casillas has lifted five La Liga trophies, two Copa del Reys, four Super Cups, three Champions Leagues, two UEFA Super Cups, two Intercontinentals and a FIFA club World Cup.
The goalkeeper, who debuted at 19, holds the national record of 166 appearances, making him the sixth most capped male footballer and joint most capped European player. He even captained his side during the Euros in 2008, earning silverware for the Iberians in a European championship, something that hadn’t occurred in almost five decades.
The Spaniard World Cup winner also boasts the World’s Best Goalkeeper Award for five consecutive years, making him arguably one of the greatest goalkeepers to walk on the face of the Earth.
Others sportsmen born on the same day:
1940: Stan Mikita, Slovak-born Canadian former ice hockey player who is considered to be the best centre of the 1960s. (75)
1982: Petr Cech, Czech Republic’s most capped player. Known for goal-parrying antics, he helped Chelsea seal their first Champions League victory. (33)
1983: Oscar Cardozo, Paraguayan striker who netted nearly 200 goals for Benfica and won eight major titles including 2014’s domestic treble. (32)
1985: Chris Froome, British cyclist who won the Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana twice. (30)
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