Casillas equals European caps record
Sunday, March 27, 2016
Iker Casillas has drawn level with retired Latvia midfielder Vitālijs Astafjevs on a European record 166 caps after starting for Spain in Sunday's friendly in Romania.
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Iker Casillas has added a new record to his already impressive list after joining Vitālijs Astafjevs on 166 caps as the most capped player in European football history. Still going strong, the 34-year-old goalkeeper reached the landmark as a starter in Spain's pre-UEFA EURO 2016 friendly in Romania on Sunday.
Iker Casillas (Spain) – 166*
A goalkeeping marvel at Real Madrid, and still soldiering on with Porto, Casillas has made clear how special it is to play for Spain: "Responsibility. Pride. Satisfaction. Happiness. Commitment. Respect for those who have preceded me. An infinity of words – and doing everything for the Spanish fans."
Vitālijs Astafjevs (Latvia) – 166
"I love football and have always loved it," said the journeyman midfielder as he played his final international, aged 39, in 2010. Astafjevs's personal pinnacle came when he represented Latvia at UEFA EURO 2004: "We worked a miracle, everyone was amazed. That was true happiness."
Martin Reim (Estonia) – 156
"There is no way I could go on playing until I die," said midfielder Reim as he made his farewell appearance – aged 38 – in 2009, ending a 17-year run in the national team. The Flora Tallinn stalwart had turned out for a foreign club only once, Finland's KooTeePee.
Gianluigi Buffon (Italy) – 155*
Overjoyed when he surpassed Dino Zoff's national record of 111 caps in 2011 ("when I made my Italy debut back in 1997, getting to this total was just a dream for me," he said), Buffon captured the 2006 World Cup with the Azzurri and, at 38, hopes he has more years left in the locker.
Lothar Matthäus (Germany/West Germany) – 150
A UEFA European Championship winner in 1980 and a FIFA World Cup winner in 1990, the midfield colossus bestrode two eras of German football. Diego Maradona said of him: "He is the best rival I've ever faced. I guess that's all you need to know."
Anders Svensson (Sweden) – 143
The midfielder and free-kick specialist called time on his international career in 2013, noting: "It's time for me to step aside and make room for younger players." 'Taco-Anders' – nicknamed after his favourite food – featured at two World Cups and two UEFA European Championships.
Robbie Keane (Republic of Ireland) 143*
Off the European radar a little as he plies his trade in the United States with LA Galaxy, Keane is – at 35 – hoping to lead the line for his country at UEFA EURO 2016. "I still have a lot to offer," he said. "It's not like I'm on my way out. I still score goals if I get the opportunities."
Thomas Ravelli (Sweden) – 143
The goalkeeper with the distinctive stare thrived on the biggest stage. "When I had to play with a knife to my throat, then I played the best matches," he said. "I needed that pressure."
Lilian Thuram (France) – 142
Thuram won the 1998 World Cup and UEFA EURO 2000 as part of an epochal France side, eventually playing on until he was 36. "If there is a header to win or a ball to force in, I'll be there," said the Guadeloupe-born defender, christened 'Le Sage' (the Wise Man) in France.
Marko Kristal (Estonia) – 142
In his own words "a jolly person by nature", Kristal was well loved as an international midfielder from 1992 until his retirement in 2005, by which time he had given up counting his appearances. "When it came close to 100 it was interesting, but after that I lost count," he said.
Anatoliy Tymoshchuk (Ukraine) – 142*
"Every international is very important for me – it's always a new opponent and a new challenge," said Tymoshchuk as he reached 100 caps in 2010. The novelty is yet to wear off for the midfielder who in 2011 was voted as Ukraine's best post-independence player.
Giorgos Karagounis (Greece) – 139
Karagounis said his goodbyes to national-team football at the close of Greece's 2014 World Cup campaign, his only regret being he was suspended for his side's UEFA EURO 2004 final win. "We can't be greedy," he shrugged. "We've already achieved so much."
*yet to retire from international football