Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has insisted that he did not push Iker Casillas out and wanted him to retire at the Santiago Bernabeu instead.
The 34-year-old goalkeeper announced his decision to leave for Porto at the weekend, signing a two-year deal with the Primeira Liga side.
Casillas’ exit led to uproar among some Madrid fans, who feel the Spain international was driven away from his boyhood club by Perez, while the goalkeeper’s parents also hit out at the club’s president.
Nevertheless, Perez has stressed that he never wanted Casillas to leave and that it was the glovesman’s own decision to depart.
“There has been a lot of pressure on him in the past two years. I have to accept his decision, but I wish he would have ended his career here,” Perez said at a press conference.
“No one from Madrid asked Iker to leave the club. There was an offer from Porto and we took it into consideration.
“Iker has the right to leave because of everything he has done for this club. The same happened with Raul. Nobody walks out of the back door here.
“Iker arrived at this club at the age of nine and leaves having won everything. I am sure that for many years to come the Madrid fans will remember Iker as one of the most legendary players ever. We have to worship our idols. I have asked for our players to be respected more than once.
“Iker has every right to start a new phase and he will do so in a great team and a fantastic city. Iker is – and will always be – a great person and a good human being.
“Iker wanted a low-key farewell. We are looking at a suitable tribute, something he deserves. The doors of Madrid will always be open to Iker.
“Some people try anything to harm me. There are always people who have something against me and use any excuse to criticise me.
“I have always come out to defend Iker when it comes to the behaviour of our fans. It is not part of our values to publicly criticise our players.
“We have spoken to Porto about a potential tribute game on August 12.”
— Real Madrid C. F. (@realmadrid) July 13, 2015
Meanwhile, Cristiano Ronaldo has also said farewell to his former skipper, thanking him for his time at Madrid and wishing him all the best for the future.
Iker, un orgullo haber trabajado contigo tantos años. Mucha suerte en tu nuevo equipo! pic.twitter.com/Y2beNYQzjK
— Cristiano Ronaldo (@Cristiano) July 13, 2015