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11 Juli 2008

Casillas For Ballon d'Or, Says Butragueño

Real Madrid are determined to keep hold of their number one stopper, who has represented the blancos at youth level, the C team, the B team, and now the full side, then they will be assured that he still has a decade of good saves left in him. Additionally, they feel that he is now ripe for individual awards.

In 2000, he became the youngest-ever glovesman to represent his team in the final of the Champions League, aged 19 and four days. Fast-forward eight years and he becomes the first goalkeeper to captain his nation to lift the UEFA European Championship. In between these years, he has won league titles, domestic cups, another Champions League, an Intercontinental Cup, and a UEFA super cup.

If he is indeed awarded the Ballon D’or he will be the first goalkeeper to claim the honour since Lev Yashin, the Soviet ace whom many consider to be the finest stopper of the twentieth century.

Emilio Butragueno, 44, played over 300 games for Real Madrid, and was even Vice-President of the club until he left following the departure of Florentino Perez. He told the club’s official website: “Iker Casillas is a special goalkeeper. He must win the Ballon d'Or. He has saved Real Madrid on numerous occasions and he's astonishingly consistent. He's the best goalkeeper in the world. Those that vote have to take all this into account.”

Butragueno singled out specific occasions, citing: “He's a European champion and the role he played in the quarterfinals make him deserve it more than anyone. His output since his first day with the first team has been spectacular.”

It remains to be seen, that when the award is announced at the end of the year, whether the status quo of rewarding forwards will be honoured, or whether voting journalists will break this mould and opt to expand Iker’s cabinet one more time.

Alan Dawson