Still just 31, Iker Casillas is already a legend in Spain, with the national team captain – with 134 caps – the most-capped La Roja player of all time. However, the UEFA EURO 2008 and 2010 FIFA World Cup winner is still very much a crucial member of the current squad, as he showed in repelling an Ivan Rakitić header in the crucial 1-0 win against Croatia in Group C that took Vicente del Bosque's side into the last eight. With France next up in the quarter-finals, the Real Madrid CF No1 spoke to UEFA.com.
UEFA.com: The fact that Spain have never defeated France in a competitive match means nothing. Is that right or not?
Iker Casillas: There's no need to keep on looking at the stats or at results from the past. Those things can change in a moment. It's true that Spain have never defeated France in a competitive match, so we'll try to beat them now. But we'll not be thinking about that. We'll be thinking that we have a goal, which is to get through this stage and reach the semi-finals of the European Championship.
UEFA.com: It is partly down to your save from Ivan Rakitić against Croatia that Spain have made it this far. Was it a difficult one?
Casillas: Well, it wasn't a difficult save. Maybe it was a bit of a spectacular save, but I was in the way of the ball, right in the middle of the goal, and it was an instinctive jump where you hopefully get the ball. If Rakitić had headed it either side of me, I probably wouldn't have had a chance to save it.
UEFA.com: That game against Croatia was a tough one; have Spain chosen a good time to come alive?
Casillas: It was more like finding ourselves again by reaching the next round – the all or nothing stage. Nobody will remember what we've done before, whether we played well against Italy or badly against Croatia. People will remember what we've done stage by stage. Of course, our objective is to defeat France. And then we'll see what happens next.
UEFA.com: Do you feel that you are fully appreciated by the media back at home?
Casillas: The truth is that we've raised the standards so much.
In the last few years we've become European and world champions, and now people demand that from us again. But people shouldn't forget that it's not that easy. There are other national teams that are changing and rebuilding their squads as well, which is also a significant factor. However, fortunately, I think I still have what it takes to play for a long time yet.
UEFA.com: Can you describe what it feels like to wear the Spain shirt?
Casillas: Responsibility. Pride. Satisfaction. Happiness. Commitment. Respect for those who have preceded me. An infinity of adjectives – and doing everything for the Spanish fans.
©UEFA.com 1998-2017. All rights reserved.