Iker Casillas profile
By Mark Kendall
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Despite his relatively tender years, Iker Casillas seems to have been around for an age both at club and international level.
The 25-year-old Real Madrid custodian burst on to the scene at Estadio Bernabeu in 2000. He started that season as third-choice keeper behind Bodo Illgner and Albano Bizarri, but a combination of injuries and suspensions saw him get his chance.
Real boss of the time, Vicente Del Bosque, stuck with the youngster despite some inconsistent spells and he responded by keeping a clean sheet to lead Real to UEFA Champions League glory that year.
Casillas subsequently endured some difficult times with Los Merengues but has matured to establish himself as undoubted number one for both club and country.
"Iker Casillas in goal deserves praise. He is sensational for us (Real Madrid) and always gives us a lot of security."
Renowned as a superb shot-stopper, there are still some question marks over his ability to deal with crosses, but his imposing and decisive presence make up for that shortfall.
A 'big game' player, Casillas always seems able to produce crucial saves at crucial times and forms part of the backbone of Luis Aragones' Spain side.
He was given the chance to fully cement his place in the national side at the last World Cup in 2002 when closest rival, Valencia's Santiago Canizares, suffered a freak injury after dropping a bottle of aftershave on his foot.
Casillas grabbed the opportunity with both hands, producing a string of solid performances in Japan and Korea and has never looked back since.
A constant for Spain during their qualifying campaign, he is regarded as one of the finest keepers in European football and already has over 50 international caps to his name.