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Casillas in the dark over Spain fate

Iker Casillas claims he has no idea who Vicente Del Bosque will pick in goal for Spain at Euro 2016.

Casillas has been Spain’s number one since the World Cup in 2002, helping his country to win the European Championship in 2008 and 2012, either side of becoming world champions in South Africa in 2010.

Despite some struggles at club level, the goalkeeper kept his place during a disappointing World Cup campaign in 2014, when the holders lost to the Netherlands and Chile to bow out in the group stage.

But, having left Real Madrid for Porto last year, the 35-year-old’s position is under considerable threat from David de Gea, who has excelled in recent seasons for Manchester United.

And while Spain’s opening match of the tournament against Czech Republic in Toulouse is less than a week away, Casillas remains unsure if he will be between the posts or watching from the sidelines.

“I do not know, that’s the truth,” he told AS when asked about his selection chances.

“I have no idea. All of us here think and believe that we can play, of course. There are 23 players who are important for their clubs. I think that all who come here [to the national team] think we can help the coach, but it’s a decision only he can make.

“Despite being older or having played in more European Championship finals, I have no certainty or assurance that I will play in this tournament. 

“To me what I like is that, despite being 35, I still have the desire and belief and [I’m] still competing.”

Casillas can sympathise with the predicament of his rival De Gea and young Sevilla goalkeeper Sergio Rico.

He was behind Santiago Canizares in the pecking order at Euro 2000, only overtaking the Valencia shot-stopper at the World Cup in Japan and South Korea, the older man having been ruled out of the tournament when he dropped an aftershave bottle and severed a tendon in his right foot during the national team’s training camp.

“Look, what comes to my mind [is] the first European Championship [I went to] in Belgium and the Netherlands with Canizares and [Jose] Molina,” Casillas said when asked about the rivalry for places during his international career.

“I came from being champion of Europe,” he added, referring to Madrid’s 1999-00 Champions League triumph.

“In 2004 Canete [Canizares] came from having [won] La Liga with Valencia and the UEFA Cup, we [at Real Madrid] in the era of Galacticos had not won anything and there was also [a] debate. 

“In 2008 maybe not so much, but in 2010 and 2012 both Pepe Reina and Victor Valdes made things very complicated and frankly, I agree that there has always been debate and I think it’s good for everyone.”

Casillas acknowledged Del Bosque is under considerable pressure to make the right call as he seeks to make amends for Spain’s poor defence of the World Cup.

“I think the coach also has the need to prove to everyone [he is right] with this decision, so I think that the coach will consider what is appropriate [before] every game and of course in that sense I will respect [his decision] and will support [my] colleagues,” he said.

Tue 7 Jun, 2016
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