Iker Casillas equalled Francisco Buyo's record of 454 official appearances in goal for Real Madrid CF in Saturday's 1-0 win against Real Racing Club, and the 27-year-old looks sure to set a daunting new standard with his side in the years to come.
Casillas had already won the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Nigeria with Spain by the time he made his league debut in a 2-2 draw away to Athletic Club Bilbao on 12 September 1999. In the subsequent ten years the 27-year-old has become an icon, cementing his reputation as a great shot-stopper by equalling the club record set by Buyo, who continued playing until he was 39.
The nine-time European Champion Clubs' Cup winners showed their appreciation for Casillas by offering him a contract until 2017, with a view to keeping him at the club for the rest of his footballing career. Casillas started his footballing journey in the Madrid youth ranks, unlike his boyhood hero Buyo, who arrived at Real Madrid in 1986 after spells at Sevilla FC and RC Deportivo La Coruña.
While Casillas has equalled Buyo's appearance record, the man from the Madrid suburb of Móstoles' record with the Spanish national team easily eclipses that of his old hero. Casillas has won 88 caps to Buyo's seven and had the honour of winning UEFA EURO 2008™ with Spain last summer. There could be more international silverware on the horizon too with the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2009 and the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa also in his sights.
With Madrid, meanwhile, he has won two UEFA Champions League winners medals, four Liga titles, one European/South American Cup, one UEFA Super Cup and three Spanish Super Cups, as well as a Zamora trophy for the best individual performance in a season. The only cup that has eluded the goalkeeper is the Copa del Rey, where he has twice been a losing finalist. With plenty of great years left in him, even though he has said he does not intend to play until an old age, it is hard to see how that missing winners medal will elude him.
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