Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas has admitted that he feels “uneasy” while facing Barcelona forward Lionel Messi but says that he enjoys their encounters on the pitch.
Messi is considered as the finest player in the world at the moment by most football followers, and Casillas, who is regarded by many as the best goalkeeper on the planet, admits that it is not easy against the Argentina international.
"Facing a player like Messi makes a goalkeeper uneasy because he is very talented,” the 30-year-old is quoted as saying by Madrid’s official website on the occasion of him attending a football seminar for children in Mexico.
“It is nevertheless always a pleasure to play against him. I'd rather have any player 10 metres away than at only a five metre distance because it is easier to save their shots."
Messi and Casillas confronted each other five times last season, twice in the Primera Division, once in the final of the Copa del Rey and in the two-legged Champions League semi-finals. Madrid could win only one of their encounters – the King’s Cup, thanks to a Cristiano Ronaldo header in extra-time – while Barca went on to win the league and the European Cup.
Casillas also reflected on his development and growth at the Santiago Bernabeu since the early noughties and said: “When I wasn't a starter in many games in 2002 I relied on my strength.
“Mental strength is the most important thing a goalkeeper, or any kind of footballer, must have. You gain a lot of ground if you have that."
The Spain international custodian enthused on winning the World Cup in South Africa last summer: "I have magnificent memories of winning the World Cup because Spain suffered for many years and deserved something like it.
“The joy, satisfaction and pride one feels lifting the trophy are incredible. I get goosebumps whenever I see those images."