Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas says the reason behind his famous phone call to Barcelona midfielder Xavi was because he thought the two clubs were at breaking point, which could have adversely affected the fortunes of Spain.
Following a number of ill-tempered El Clasico matches, the defining moment for Casillas was after the Supercopa touchline fracas in 2011 that saw former Madrid coach Jose Mourinho poke the eye of Barca predecessor Tito Vilanova.
The goalkeeper and Xavi have been friends since they were teenagers and the shot-stopper felt a call to his international team-mate was needed to avoid further divide and conflict in the Spanish squad - the bulk of which is made up of Barca and Madrid players.
“I called Xavi because it was my duty to do so, as the captain, it’s my responsibility,” Casillas told El Pais. “I knew what I had to do because the group was becoming divided, because I represent my country and I have to defend an idea.
“We chatted about how we could re-direct what was going on because we had reached a point where we were about to mess everything up.
“Those images of El Clasico were something I had not seen since I was a boy – we were sending out the wrong messages and because I was a part of it all too, I had to make a decision to call a halt to the problems.”
Since then Spain won Euro 2012, reached the final of the Confederations Cup and finished top of their World Cup qualifying Group I last month.
La Roja are continuing their preparations for the 2014 World Cup with a friendly match against South Africa on Tuesday, their first return to Johannesburg since their 2010 World Cup win in Soccer City.