Real Madrid president Florentino Perez insists a farewell news conference for Iker Casillas on Monday was not hastily arranged due to criticism in the press.
Casillas said an emotional farewell to Real on Sunday after it was confirmed he would end his 25-year stay at the Santiago Bernabeu, during which time he won five La Liga titles and three UEFA Champions League winners’ medals.
However, Real and Perez were targeted by some sections of the media for the low-key nature of Casillas’ goodbye, with the president failing to accompany the goalkeeper as he fought back the tears to address reporters.
Perez, though, has hit back at his detractors by stating that it was always his intention to give Casillas his own send off, but that negotiations with Porto meant he had to wait to do so.
“As we know we had a press conference [on Sunday] for Iker Casillas. I wanted to be here for a farewell for this great captain of our club,” he told a news conference.
“I wanted Iker to be here with me. There have been false reports in some places that have nothing to do with the truth. He has won affection and respect and did it on the pitch with impeccable conduct.
“Iker wanted a simple farewell. It is not necessarily what we wanted, but it is his decision and we accepted it. It has been an emotional few days for him. We have been working on paying homage to him. We admire Iker and the doors are always open to his lifelong club.
“Maybe we made a mistake as well, maybe there was a rush to try and sign the contract, there was a situation where the players had to go to Australia [for pre-season] and Iker had to go to Portugal.
“He came here at nine years old and leaves as the captain and one of the most important references in the history of Real Madrid. The greatest goalkeeper in the history of Real Madrid and Spain is leaving us.”
Perez also came in for criticism from Casillas’ mother, Mari Carmen Fernandez, who suggested Casillas was being forced out of the club.
However, Perez says he would have preferred Casillas to stay.
“He is leaving us because he wants to,” he added. “Nobody at Real Madrid asked him to leave. An offer came to us from Porto, he asked us to consider it, that’s what we did. I think Iker in these 25 years has earned respect.
“I would have liked for him to retire at Real Madrid, I told him that before. He has made our legend even greater. There are many emotions in this painful goodbye.”