It was no wonder, then, that by 2015, Casillas was ready for a change of scenery. His relationship with Real Madrid had changed; he admitted to feeling “alone” at one point, as he was ostracized first by Mourinho and then, later, cut adrift by the club’s president, Florentino Pérez. He saw, in Porto, the chance to find “some peace.”
“I needed to be calm to enjoy it again,” he said. “I didn’t like seeing myself in the press every day, or in the middle of certain arguments. The best option was to leave, even if it was the place where I grew up, the place that was my home, the place where many people suffered with me. I didn’t want that angst. I wanted less fear.”
The stress and the strain, though, do not change the memories. That is what Casillas cherishes from his career: not so much all of the acclaim — praised by no less an authority than Gianluigi Buffon as one of the best goalkeepers of all time — or all of the trophies he won, but all of the things he remembers, and is remembered for.
Soccer, to Casillas, is about memory: not the score lines, necessarily, but the sensations. The players he holds in the highest esteem are the ones who played the most games, lasted the longest — he mentions Paul Scholes and Francesco Totti — the ones who burned themselves into the history of a club.
He likes those moments when fans tell him where they were when Spain won the World Cup, or what they were doing when he came off the bench, barely out of his teens, to win his second Champions League.
“It happens when you go to the park, go to a restaurant, meet someone Spanish when you’re abroad,” he said. “They remember where they were: getting married, or watching it with their son. These moments mark everyone. It is lovely to know that you are remembered.”