Ballon d’Or – The case for Casillas


If one is to believe the headlines, only one of either Messi or Ronaldo deserve to win this year’s award for the best footballer in the world, the FIFA Ballon d’Or. Although other contenders such as Xavi, Iniesta and Falcao have also been mentioned, there is one highly successful player that should be considered – the captain of Spain & Real Madrid, Iker Casillas.

Spain’s shot-stopper supreme led La Roja to glory in Poland and Ukraine, albeit from a privileged position, watching in awe as the team’s golden generation of footballers passed and pressed their way to a third title in four years.

In the final, Iker’s intervention then thwarted Antonio Di Natale as the Italians looked for a way back into the game at 2-0 down. Spain scored twice more in what was a flattering scoreline in the end, with Thiago Motta departing through injury and leaving the Azzurri with a man down for the last half an hour. Three minutes of injury time were to be added, but Casillas told the referee to stop the contest. The game was over, the damage done – it was a sporting gesture from the goalkeeper.

That match was Casillas’ 137th for Spain and he is now 11 clear of previous record-holder and fellow goalkeeping great Andoni Zubizarreta. Even more significantly, though, the final success made the Madrid man the first-ever player to secure 100 wins at international level. He also broke Dino Zoff’s record of 494 minutes without conceding at a European Championship, as he went 511 without letting in a goal after Antonio Di Natale’s strike in Spain’s Group C opener against Italy.

It was a fitting finale to a successful season with Real Madrid, in which the Blancos’ captain made a crucial Clasico save from Xavi in the decisive 2-1 win at Camp Nou in April, as well as a remarkable reaction stop to deny Manu del Moral at Sevilla and imperious interventions in the narrow wins over both Valencia and Rayo Vallecano.

Casillas made light of his rocky relationship with Madrid coach Jose Mourinho by leading the club to their first Liga success since 2008, before repeating the feat with Spain at Euro 2012.

Xavi and Iniesta have come close and will be in contention again, while Sergio Ramos was superb for club and country this year. But for his leadership, his consistent ability to perform when it matters and everything he represents for both Madrid and Spain, Casillas deserves the award. Whether he will win it, however, is another matter altogether.

Read more of Ben Wayward’s case for “Why Iker Casillas deserves to win the Ballon D’or”. Meanwhile, Iker’s Real Madrid teammate, Raul Albiol, gives his opinion, “it is clear that to win the award as a goalkeeper is very difficult but, if anyone can do, it is Iker. Last year, he won trophies with Spain and with Real Madrid. He had a great season.”

“The most just thing would be to give a Ballon d’Or to Cristiano, Messi, Iker and Iniesta too,” he said. “There is only one, but many players would deserve it.

“A ‘keeper should have the same chance as an outfield player, and he has given a lot to Spanish football, the national team and Real Madrid.”

Surprisingly, a Barcelona fan & blogger, Francesc Tomas, has also picked Casillas as one of his 3 choices for the prestigious award:

Yes, you read that right. And no, I’m not about to become a Real Madrid fan any time soon. However, I must admit that the part that Iker Casillas has played over the years while on international duty with Spain is beyond remarkable.

If we analyse the list of Ballon d’Or winners over the years, we quickly realize that the last defensive player to win was Fabio Cannavaro in 2006 and the last goalkeeper, Lev Yashin in… wait for it… 1963!

Historically, individual awards in football have been given to players who netted many goals. Sure, goals are the essence our game but the impact from more defensive players is crucial for shared success. A clear example: Who was more important to Real Madrid during the Galacticos era: Claude Makélélé or Raul Gonzalez? For me, it was definitely the Frenchman!

Iker Casillas has been excellent for club and country for many years. While I still believe Victor Valdes is the best goalkeeper Barcelona could possibly have, I must admit that I admire the sense of security, professionalism and charisma that Iker transmits to his team whenever he puts those gloves on.

Iker Casillas recently explained: “The Ballon d’Or should be won by the player most deserving. Clearly, goalkeepers are not well appreciated in this type of awards, but I think we have the same right to win the Ballon d’Or as any of the other players take the field in every game. Now they say that I can win it, but it’s not something that I obsess over.”

If being the best player in the world is about excelling at your position over a continued number of years while leading the most successful national team in history, then Iker Casillas should lift the Ballon d’Or in 2012.

Which player do YOU think should win the FIFA Ballon d’Or? Does Iker Casillas deserve to take the award or have Ronaldo and Messi been too good for any one else to even be considered? Do let us know what you think.

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  1. Pirlo doesn’t need the Ballon d’Or to prove his greatness | TOKNOWTHEGAME.COM - December 19, 2012

    […] in the initial 23-man shortlist for the FIFA award but not in the final list. TKTG made the case for Casillas earlier and now we focus our sights on the Italy and Juventus talisman: Kris Voakes of […]

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