Iker Casillas says he feels like he is “starting a new life” in football after opening a new goalkeeping academy in Dubai.
The former Real Madrid and Spain captain, who was a World Cup winner in South Africa in 2010, officially retired in 2020, a year after suffering a heart attack.
The 40-year old is returning to the sport in Dubai after starting the Iker Casillas Goalkeeper Training Centre alongside his former club and national team colleague Michel Salgado.
“This is a special day for many reasons,” Casillas said, talking at the headquarters of the Dubai Sports Council.
“I have been involved in football for my entire life. Some years ago I had to retire before my time due to a heart attack.
“That was a difficult time for me, so today I am starting a new life again in terms of football, with my new training centre and goalkeeping coaching system in Dubai.
“Throughout all the years of my career, I was always thinking about the future and how I could help kids who were dreaming about being goalkeepers.
“This is the first day where I am going to try to make this true, and support a lot of kids around the world through my knowledge, and help them chase their dreams.”
Casillas will be welcomed by a familiar face in his new venture in the form of his long-time former teammate Salgado.
The duo enjoyed a highly successful decade together at Madrid between 1999 and 2009, winning everything club football has to offer, before Salgado departed.
The former Spain defender has been resident in Dubai for the best part of 10 years now, running his own coaching academy, and latterly his own professional club side.
Casillas’ new keeper-specific clinic will be associated with Fursan Hispania, Salgado’s pro side project which translates as “Spanish Knights”.
“I brought him to Dubai and wanted to give him the idea of something that I think will mean a lot,” Salgado said.
“I’ve lived here for nearly 10 years, and I believe I know the Arab world quite well. I think it is something that is missing in the entire world – goalkeeper-specific training.
“When I moved here with my family, it was for so many reasons. Not only is it a beautiful city, but I saw so many opportunities. It was not only because I saw opportunities for investment, but for security for my family.
“I saw a good future, that’s why I decided to move to Dubai. I had offers to carry on playing football, but I thought it was more important to come here and make a new life. After 10 years, I can say that I was right.”