Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez came out fighting today after being criticised for the club’s handling of the departure of goalkeeper Iker Casillas.
Pérez held a press conference alongside the 34-year-old club legend to bid a fond farewell and dispel reports that he was partly to blame for Casillas’ demise and eventual exit.
His appearance came just 24 hours after Casillas read out an emotional statement at the Bernabeu alone and after his parents criticised the club president for wanting their son out of the club for the last five years.
Pérez defended the move, however, and said Casillas’ move to Porto came at his own request and not that of the club’s.
“Casillas asked us to leave,” said the president. “We wanted him to retire at Real Madrid but he received an offer from Porto and asked us to consider it. We always had a good relationship and many reports published throughout these days are false. I have a lot of affection for Iker, contrary to what some report.”
Pérez instead shifted much of the blame on the fans who have been heard whistling the goalkeeper, amongst other players, in recent seasons.
“I’ve always said that I don’t understand why some fans whistle our players. Our players deserve respect and they are part of our history. Casillas deserves respect from our fans. Those who whistled Casillas are the ones who will miss him the most in the coming years.”
Casillas also spoke at the press conference but when the question and answer session started it was the president who fielded all the questions. Pérez was also subject to loud whistles himself from the fans who gathered inside the stadium to wish Casillas a fond farewell.