Iker Casillas, Michel Salgado and Saeed Hareb, Secretary General of DSC at the launch of the Iker Casillas Goalkeeper Training Centre
Iker Casillas, Michel Salgado and Saeed Hareb, Secretary General of DSC at the launch of the Iker Casillas Goalkeeper Training Centre Image Credit: Supplied

Spain and Real Madrid footballing legend Iker Casillas has chosen Dubai to open his first overseas goalkeeper training centre.

The ‘Iker Casillas Goalkeeper Training Centre’, established in partnership with Dubai’s Fursan Hispania — led by former Spain player Michel Salgado — is dedicated to honing the skills of aspiring young goalkeepers from the UAE and Middle East, as well as established professionals and goalkeeping coaches.

The launch of the centre was announced during a conference held on Tuesday at Dubai Sports Council, in the presence of Saeed Hareb, Secretary General of DSC. Casillas, Salgado and Nasser Aman Al Rahma, Assistant Secretary General of DSC were also present.

Hareb said: “The launch of the ‘Iker Casillas Goalkeeper Training Centre’ in Dubai is great news for young goalkeeping talents and coaches from not just the UAE but around the region. The programme has been developed by one of the finest goalkeepers in football history — a legend who has won a World Cup (2010) and two European Championships (2008 and 2012) as captain of Spain, and numerous other titles in a long and illustrious career with Real Madrid, both at home and on the continental stage. Casillas has a few equals in football history, and the fact that he has chosen Dubai to launch this specialised programme for goalkeepers reaffirms Dubai’s position as one of the world’s leading centres for the development of sports talent and coaches, and the preferred destination for investment in the sports sector.”

Hareb added that both Casillas and Salgado will bring a wealth of experience and expertise to the Centre.

“Salgado has been our partner for many years and has worked on many different projects with Dubai Sports Council for the benefit of football in the country and region, and we are pleased to strengthen our association with him as part of this new initiative,” he added. “The Council’s doors are always open to new projects and initiatives that seek to develop sports here and our sports sector.”

Casillas added: “My football career was brought to an early end due to health reasons. This training centre is like starting a new second life for me. I have always dreamt of giving back to this sport which has given me everything, and I have always wanted to open a training centre dedicated to goalkeeping. There are very few specialist training centres for goalkeepers in the world, and I am really pleased to launch this important project here in Dubai, a city where I have always felt welcomed.

“I would like to thank Dubai, first and foremost, and then Michel and Dubai Sports Council for making this project become a reality. Our focus will, of course, be on creating goalkeepers, but more than that, I want this training centre to develop good human beings because that is the most important thing.”

Casillas, who won five La Liga titles and three Champions League crowns during his time as Real, suffered ‘an acute myocardial infarction’ in May 2019 while playing for Porto and announced his retirement last year, aged 39.