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DISGRACE! Why Real Madrid made themselves as small as Iker's farewell

COMMENT: This was shocking. Absolutely shocking. Indefensible. Iker Casillas' farewell media conference made Real Madrid appear as small as the gathering that was in front of him.

Twenty-five years a Real Madrid player - man and boy. A captain, delivering every title in the game to his hometown club. Yet, there Casillas was yesterday, in his civvies, sitting at a tiny desk, delivering a written farewell message in his last act as a member of Real Madrid.

"Take your photos now before the tears mess it up," Iker joked with photographers as he prepared to deliver his final goodbye.

"It should take 30 seconds, but will last an hour."

It was said with good humour, but this was emotional for Casillas. That first sentence, punctured by sips of water, took him over two minutes to complete.

But he pressed on and as he did so, many of us watching were left appalled. What were we witnessing? For a club that is always trumpeting about 'image' and 'vision', here was an icon being shuffled out the back door.

It was only weeks ago Barcelona said their farewell to Xavi. There was no ratty desk and old chair for the midfielder. Instead, Barca laid on a gala night for the hometown hero. It was more like a signing ceremony than a club farewell.

This morning, Real are defending yesterday's conference. And to president Florentino Perez's credit, he did allow Casillas to depart on his own terms.

Casillas was presented with several options last week - and it was agreed his farewell would be on a 'grand scale' - similar to Xavi's. Video tributes were being edited, the doors of the Santiago Bernabeu would be open for fans to attend - it was to be a special day.

But Real insist due to negotiations over the payoff stalling, the original date of the farewell ceremony had to be scrapped. From there, everything was scaled down to the point where Casillas, with his (former) teammates on a jet for Australia, was left to say goodbye on his own.

Florentino offered to be with him yesterday, but the gesture was turned down. Any doubts over claims of bad blood between the pair were eliminated over the weekend after his parents' stunning interview in El Mundo.

Mum, Mari Carmen, snapped: "I have watched him suffer for many years. It is Florentino who is pushing him out because he wanted to end his career at Real Madrid."

This was as bitter a breakup as we've seen in football. Real will claim otherwise, but it's clear Florentino wanted rid of Casillas quickly and with as little fanfare as possible.

In footballing terms, the split is understandable. Casillas' consistency has slipped over the past two years. You couldn't rank the Spaniard in the top rung of today's goalkeepers.

But for his service to the club, he deserved so, so much better than what occurred yesterday. Are you watching Sergio Ramos?

This is Real Madrid. It really shouldn't be about personalities. Everyone connected to this divorce should've done better by the club.

If not Florentino, then why not Emilio Butragueno standing in? El Buitre usually picks up the slack when the president is unavailable. And why couldn't we have seen some of the former youth coaches Casillas name-checked during his speech? Would that have been so difficult?

Speaking of which, for the biggest club in the world, why couldn't Real have delayed the squad's flight a couple of hours so players and staff could attend?

Real Madrid is bigger than this. It's bigger than farewell posts on Twitter. It's bigger than Iker Casillas and even Florentino Perez. This occasion deserved so much more than what the 'world's greatest club' threw up yesterday.

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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