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Iker Casillas reveals he will retire only when Gianluigi Buffon does

The Spanish goalkeeper also spoke about which teams would be dangerous at Euro 2016

Iker Casillas retirement Gianluigi Buffon
Iker Casillas and Gianluigi Buffon have immense respect for each other

Spain goalkeeper and captain Iker Casillas has said that he will not retire from football unless Italy and Juventus legend Gianluigi Buffon retires. The 35-year-old shot-stopper is three years younger than Buffon and has no plans of stopping yet.

“When [Buffon] retires, I will too,” Casillas said in an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport. “He just signed a new deal and that makes me happy because that means I will too.”

Buffon, who turned 38 in January, is unlikely to retire anytime soon. Only last month Juventus extended his contract by a year to keep him at the Serie A club until 2018. That would see Buffon become a free agent only when he is past the age of 40.

Casillas himself has a contract with Porto until 2017 only. But he does have the option to extend it till 2018.

“When we call it quits we’ll set up a nice match between my friends and his friends,” Casillas suggested. 

The two goalkeepers have immense respect for each other with Buffon even giving the Spaniard words of encouragement after his acrimonious exit from Real Madrid. Many expected Casillas to finish his career at the Bernabeu having joined its youth system as a 9-year-old in 1990. But the club decided to let him go and the goalkeeper bid the club goodbye in a tearful press conference.

“You’ve always been a Real Madrid icon,” Buffon had said. “But above all you’ve been one of the best representatives of our position on the pitch.” 

Casillas has also been very respectful of Buffon and even urged the referee to blow the full-time whistle in the final of Euro 2012 instead of playing a few minutes of stoppage time. Italy were already down and out after losing their final substitute Thiago Motta to a hamstring injury. With the scoreline reading 4-0, Casillas got the referee’s attention and requested him to stop the game out of “respect for Italy”.

Belgium could surprise at Euro 2016: Casillas

The Spanish captain, looking to defend the Euro crown they won four years ago in Kiev (and four years prior to that in 2008 in Vienna), was also asked which teams could spring a surprise at Euro 2016 in France. 

“I respect Croatia,” Casillas said. “But if I had to say one country that doesn’t have a strong tradition of winning, I would say Belgium.”

“It will be more difficult than four years ago. France are good, Belgium are strong and then Germany are world champions. Italy and Portugal are always dangerous,” he concluded.

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