Polish goalkeeper Jerezy Dudek is remembered fondly on the red side of Liverpool. The goalie had 6 amazing years at the Anfield club, including some memorable nights such as Liverpool’s Champions League Final win over AC Milan when he watched his side come from 3 goals behind to win the game and the cup in a thrilling penalty shootout. His heroics that night, when he replicated the Bruce Grobbelaar “spaghetti legs” during the shoot out which helped him to save two vital penalties, puts him in the category of club legend. Two years later, he would earn a dream move to Real Madrid as reward for his achievements. Dudek was excited about his move and the opportunity to play in-goal for one of the biggest clubs in the world but his dream would be shattered by one man – Spanish and Real Madrid’s legendary Goalkeeper Iker Casillas. Over 4 years at the Bernabeau, Dudek made only two appearances, not due to injury but solely down to the consistant form of the ever-present Casillas.
Iker Casillas is a one club man having spent his entire career at Real Madrid, but what a career he has had. After joining the club’s youth team in 1990, he would develop over the next 7 years towards the full team, finally making his debut as a replacement for German goalie Bodo Illgner in a match in 1998. The next season, aged 17, he would replace the German legend as starting goalkeeper and never looked back. Now, 14 years and 485 appearance later, Casillas is firmly in the clubs history book as a living legend. He exploits have seen him win the Spanish league 5 times, the Spanish Supercup 4 times, the Champions League twice (first time as a 19-year-old) and the UEFA Super Cup once in a glittering career that has also seen him named as FIFA’s best goalkeeper 4 times and recognised by a large percentage of football fans as one of the greatest goalkeeper’s of all time. His consistant form and rock steady hands has also help Iker Casillas to hold onto the Spanish No.1 jersey as well, gaining a record 142 caps in a twelve-year period. During that time he has picked up two European Championships in a row ( 2008,2012) and one World Cup (as captain 2010) in a period of spanish domination of international football.
Jose Mourinho is looking long-term towards the future and has identified several potential options as a replacement for Casillas, for when he decides to hang up his gloves. Manchester United’s young Spanish goalkeeper, David De Gea and Leceister City’s Danish star, Kasper Schmeichel, son of the legendary goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel are potential options as are Spanish duo, Atletico Madrid’s Sergio Asenjo and Osasuna’s Andres Fernandez. All have demonstrated their talents between the sticks at their individual clubs but none come close to the stature and abilities that Casillas possesses.
At 31, Iker could play for another 9 years if he keeps in condition and on form as other goalkeepers have shown over the years (his idol Andoni Zubizarreta played till he was 37 and only retired due to injury) so the search may be slightly premature. Nevertheless Mourinho wants to bring in someone who can provide competition to Casillas with a view to displacing him in the number 1 jersey. But as Dudek and others have found out, that’s not as easy as it sounds.