Doctors have warned that Iker Casillas, who suffered a heart attack during training with Porto on Wednesday, might never play again due to the severity of the incident and the steps required to prevent another myocardial incident.
The 37-year-old goalkeeper was rushed to hospital following his collapse and was treated well enough in time to ensure he was out of danger, with the former Real Madrid man taking to social media to thank fans for their support.
“All under control here,” he wrote from his hospital bed. “A bit of a shock but I'm full of strength. Thanks very much to everyone for the messages of support and love."
With Casillas seemingly on the mend, concern turned into curiosity as to when the Spain icon would return to the pitch.
And while several medical professionals urged patience and caution, the prognosis seemed to be that 'Saint Iker' would not have to hang up his gloves for good.
“We will have to wait to see how his body heals and then study the results of the rigorous medical tests he will be put through,” Dr Jose Gonzalez told AS. “His heart could return to functioning as normal and he might have the chance to return to his profession.”
Cardiologist Jose Calabuig struck a similar tone between caution and optimism, telling Cadena SER's El Larguero: “Physically, if there is no scarring then there's a chance the muscle will heal. Within a timeframe of three to six
“It all goes well then he will certainly be able to return to work.”
Calabuig, however, explained that Casillas would have to have a stent inserted, and a fellow medical practitioner contested that the former Spain No.1 would be able to return to work after such a procedure has been carried out.
“You cannot play football with a stent,” Juan Antonio Corbalan told RTVE. “And that particularly applies to a goalkeeper. Iker will end up returning to enjoy a normal life but I very much doubt he will play professional football again.”
Those thoughts were echoed by cardiologist Miguel Marina: “The first 24 hours will be key,” he told El Partidazo. “When he is discharged from hospital he will have to live life at a more relaxed pace and take things easy.
“He will also be on medication and then we'll see how things develop from there.”