Iker Casillas has opened up about his feud with Jose Mourinho during their time at Real Madrid. The goalkeeping legend says their relationship broke down after he spoke to Barcelona players Xavi and Carles Puyol as part of an effort to ease tensions between the clubs, leading to the custodian not speaking to his manager at all during his final year at the Santiago Bernabeu.
The rivalry between Barcelona and Real Madrid became increasingly heated during Mourinho's time in La Liga. Despite many players across the divide being long-term friends, a number of ill-tempered El Clasicos saw massed brawls, red cards and even Mourinho poking the late Tito Vilanova in the eye during a Super Cup encounter.
Casillas felt that the Spanish national team could be jeopardise by the bad blood, and as a result called two of his international teammates in to smooth matters over.
"It didn't sit well with [Mourinho] that I spoke with someone from Barcelona to ease the tension in the national team. I spoke with Xavi and Puyi [Carles Puyol]. But the words that we used were not 'listen, forgive me'. That was what a journalist linked with Mourinho said. What I said to Xavi was 'look, if we keep going like this, we're going to burden Spanish football with the image we give with two teams like Madrid and Barcelona," Casillas explained during an interview with RTVE.
"I was the captain of Real Madrid but also of Spain. Everyone can believe what they want. I have a club I owe but I also have a national team."
"The year started as normal in January and Mourinho thought there was a teammate who was better than me, in Antonio Adan, who is phenomenal and a great kid, and he puts him in," Casillas explained.
"I can't say anything to him, because he's the coach, he puts in who he wants. Then there are opinions... Then came my injury in January. After that, all I hear about me is crap, crap and more crap. The only thing I wanted was for my hand to recover, to get back to train with the group and compete, but my place had already been occupied by another person.
"The boss thought it right that he should play and I couldn't say anything. But then there were the gestures in the press conferences [when Mourinho said that he 'liked more Diego Lopez than Iker Casillas'] and the things he did."
Thus the relationship between keeper and boss reached a point of no return. Reports in Spain said Mourinho had accused Casillas of being a traitor, leaking information to the press. The Real Madrid fans eventually split into two factions, one in favour of the goalie and the other supporting the coach. The "war" between the two eventually saw both leave the club in successive years.
"There was a war between Mourinhoistas and Casillistas' when I still hadn't spoken. Then they tell me 'you don't speak because you use others to speak for you'. Are we crazy? Do people not have their own judgment, their own opinion?
"I had spoken with [Mourinho] many times, but the last year we didn't speak at all. It was an ugly situation. And I think what I did was for the best."
Casillas failed to recapture his best form at Real, despite securing more playing time under Carlo Ancelotti, and last summer decided to move to Porto.