Madrid - Former Barcelona and Spain midfielder Xavi has hit
out at Real Madrid for failing to give departing captain and goalkeeper Iker
Casillas the send-off he deserved before his switch to Porto.
A tearful Casillas appeared alone in the Bernabeu stadium
press room on Sunday and the 34-year-old choked up several times as he read a
farewell statement that brought to an end 16 seasons in the Real first team.
A wave of criticism followed, with Casillas's parents also
saying in a newspaper interview their son had been forced out of the club by
president Florentino Perez.
Real responded by organising an official presentation with
Perez and Casillas at the Bernabeu on Monday, when hundreds of fans who turned
up in sweltering heat chanted for the president to quit and gave Casillas a
The contrast between Sunday's surreal appearance and the
send-off Barca gave his close friend Xavi was telling.
Also read: Real Madrid to give Casillas official send-off after criticism
A product of Barca's academy, Xavi, 35, joined Qatari side
Al Sadd at the end of last season and fans, officials and team mates paid
homage to him at a packed Nou Camp stadium where the midfielder was surrounded
by family and friends.
Xavi wrote in Spanish daily La Vanguardia on Tuesday that
Casillas had not changed since they first met at the Under-17 World Cup in
Egypt in 1997 and that he remained "a good person".
"That's why it leaves a bad taste what is happening
with him now," Xavi wrote.
"In recent years, I have seen that he is not enjoying
himself like before.
"He even seems bitter and I think everyone in this
country (Spain) should think about this.
"It cannot be that maturing Spanish athletes are not
shown sufficient respect, that people neglect to value everything they have
done for their sport and instead focus on their defects, sometimes with
Xavi drew a comparison with Juventus and Italy keeper
Gianluigi Buffon, who he said still appeared to be enjoying himself in goal at
the age of 37.
"I look at Iker and I have the feeling that lately he
is playing under pressure, as if he has to prove what a great keeper he is in
every match, without the joy he always had.
"Now he is going to Porto and I am sure he will be
welcomed as a hero. Away from here they will appreciate him more."For
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