Iker Casillas has won the approval of Spain's goalkeeping greats ahead of a match in which he will equal Luis Arconada's tally of 68 internationals. When the Real Madrid CF custodian appears in the UEFA EURO 2008™ Group F qualifier against Iceland tonight, he will become his country's seventh-most capped player and his predecessors are full of praise for his achievements.
Still only 25, Casillas has time on his side although he has some way to go to catch Andoni Zubizarreta's record of 126 games. "Casillas is an all-round goalkeeper and his greatest virtue is that he keeps improving every year," said former Real Sociedad de Fútbol hero Arconada, who represented Spain between 1977 and 1985. "He is calm, has great reflexes and, despite what some people say, is good at coming off his line. He will keep breaking records as long as he doesn't get injured. I think he is a normal, humble person, which also helps."
Zubizarreta played for Spain from 1985-97 and has first-hand experience of Casillas's talent. "I met Iker when I was at the Spanish Football Federation and trained with him," the FC Barcelona and Valencia CF great said. "I tried to explain to him what this whole business was about, just as Arconada had done with me. Casillas is a very young and excellent player and he will play many more games. I don't consider him a rival for my record. A player like him, who keeps standing above the rest when there is a lot of competition for the jersey, is simply great."
Another Barça legend, Antonio Ramallets, believes the current No1 is very similar to Arconada and is continuing a long tradition of exceptional goalkeepers. "Iker Casillas is always reliable, just as Luis Arconada was," said Ramallets, a Spanish international of the 1950s. "I think they have similar styles and I wouldn't have known which of the two to choose if they had been contemporaries. Spain has always had good keepers."
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