Iker Casillas described his return to the Spain starting lineup for the Confederations Cup as his second debut. His Spain and Real Madrid teammate Sergio Ramos said it was a privilege to have him back and moments before their semifinal,Italy captain and goalkeeper Gigi Buffon walked up to his counterpart inside the tunnel and gave him a hug. He too seemed glad to have his friend and foe back in the mix of things,with the captains armband around his shoulder.
It seems funny that after leading Spain to a World Cup and two Euro titles,Casillas has had to prove his worth all over again. The last five months have been rather unusual for the Spain custodian. After suffering a hand injury at the start of the year,he lost his place to Diego Lopez in Reals first team owing to a fall-out with manager Jose Mourinho. It looked doubtful whether he could retain his place as first choice under the bar for Spain too,with Barcelonas Victor Valdes and Liverpools Pepe Reina also in contention.
But Casillas has emerged stronger and showed that his exclusion by Mourinho had nothing to do with football. Having looked assured right through the tournament,he came up with a Man of the Match effort against Italy,producing three crucial saves in the first half to keep his side in the match.
While he must have been sad to see Italy leave the competition,Reals new boss Carlo Ancelotti must have been delighted that it was Casillas who kept them out.
(Mihir is a senior correspondent based in Mumbai) email@example.com
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