By Inaki Angulo in Gdansk
Iker Casillas is currently playing in his sixth major tournament for Spain. The Real Madrid goalkeeper has widely been considered one of the world's best goalkeepers since making his debut under Jose Antonio Camacho in 2002, and is the undisputed choice between the sticks for La Roja.
And it was 10 years ago, against Thursday's rivals Ireland that Casillas cemented his legend status with Spain, saving three penalties in the World Cup second-round match to seal a place in the quarter-finals for La Roja.
So ahead of his next meeting with the Irish on Thursday, Goal.com looks, in chronological order, at the goalkeeper's heroic highlights with Spain over the last decade.
|2002 WORLD CUP: SPAIN 1-1 IRELAND: THE PENALTY LEGEND BEGINS
The World Cup in Japan and Korea saw Casillas' first memorable moments with the national side. The Madrid keeper, who was second choice behind Santiago Canizares, claimed the starting spot after the Valencia man severed a tendon in his foot in a freak domestic accident when he dropped a bottle of aftershave in the shower. Casillas, who just a month earlier had played a pivotal part in Madrid's Champions League success against Bayer Leverkusen after replacing the injured Cesar Sanchez in the latter stages of the final, also came in to the World Cup side via the back door - but made it count.
In the last 16, Spain came up against Ireland and, despite going ahead thanks to an early goal from Fernando Morientes, the rest of the match was played on a knife edge. Casillas kept Spain ahead as he saved a penalty from Ian Harte in the second half, but he could do nothing to prevent Robbie Keane's late leveller from the spot and after a goalless period of extra time, the match would be decided by a shootout.
And Casillas was the hero again, saving from David Connolly and Kevin Kilbane to send Spain into the last eight.
|EURO 2008: SPAIN 0-0 ITALY: REWRITING HISTORY
Six years on, Casillas helped rewrite history for Spain at Euro 2008, as he captained the side to their first tournament success since the European Championship in 1964. And the Real Madrid keeper played a pivotal part, saving from Antonio Di Natale and Daniele De Rossi in the shootout following 120 minutes of tense football with no goals.
Italy was seen as the biggest test for a Spain side that had cruised through the group stages, with La Roja never having overcome the Azzurri in a major tournament. They did in 2008, thanks to Casillas, and the rest is history.
|2010 WORLD CUP: SPAIN 1-0 PARAGUAY: TAKING REINA'S ADVICE
On their way to the title in South Africa, Spain met Paraguay in the quarter-finals. The side coached by Gerardo Martino closed the space in midfield and made life uncomfortable for Vicente del Bosque's men throughout. Gerard Pique gave away a penalty in the second half and Spain's passage to the semi-finals suddenly appeared in doubt.
Pepe Reina knew exactly where Oscar Cardozo would place the ball, having been beaten by the Paraguayan against Benfica and having studied numerous rivals before the tournament, passed the tip on to Casillas. Iker did the rest and did not even allow a rebound.
|2010 WORLD CUP: SPAIN 1-0 NETHERLANDS: CASILLAS TWO; ROBBEN NIL
In the 61st minute of the World Cup final, there was a sharp intake of breath for the whole of Spain. Arjen Robben waltzed through the Spanish back line all alone, only to be thwarted by Casillas on the penalty spot as the Madrid keeper saved with his feet after standing tall and outwitting the Dutchman.
And right at the end of the 90 minutes, the two found themselves one on one once more. The result was the same: Robben was denied by Casillas and the game went to extra time. Then Andres Iniesta stepped up, scored the winner and Spain were champions.
But none of it would have happened without Casillas.