the Iker book – part VII
We’ve heard from Iker’s father and mother, and now it’s time to hear from his (adorable) brother Unai, and two of his closest friends, Julio and Bici.
Memories of his brother: Unai Casillas on Iker.
I’m seven years younger than Iker, and despite the age difference, we’ve spent a lot of time playing together and we’ve done everything that two brothers can do together. In our house, we really enjoyed passing each other the ball using our heads, and we would put between us a bed, a mattress, a sofa, whatever we could find. We got along very well. We did have fights of course, but nothing serious, and he of course was much stronger than I was. I remember that he bit my cheeks and made me cry. It did drive me a little crazy, but in a good way.
In the pueblo, during the summers, I would go hang out with him and his friends when mine weren’t around. My mother wouldn’t let him go out if he left me at home. In school, I tried hiding the fact that I was Iker’s brother, but everyone knew and asked me about him. I wore Joma sneakers, the same as Alfonso, and they asked me if my brother was going to be like Alfonso.
The truth is my brother didn’t speak much about football at home. He didn’t talk about his battles. Once in a while, he would tell me something, but he never bragged about playing in Madrid. I began to realize that my brother was good when he began playing for the various national teams. I was happy that he got to travel around the world, but he never flaunted it. He wasn’t one of those who bought many things either. I remember his first big triumph as being the U-20 World Cup in Nigeria, when he stopped a penalty against Ghana.
I started playing futsal when I was eight. I also played chess, which was another of my interests. I would participate in tournaments and do well. From futsal, I went on to regular football, and I played in the third division with Móstoles when I was 20-21 years old. Now I play to have fun and to do sports in Boadilla, in the Segunda Regional. I’m a midfielder. A creator. I’m more like Xabi than Lass. Iker has come several times to see me play, but he hasn’t had a lot of spare time for the past 10 years.
In the beginning, I was crazy for football, until I entered into university when I was 17-18. Now I don’t pay as much attention and there are times when I don’t even know what team Madrid is playing. I like playing more than watching. I prefer to play a pickup game than to watch a game on television. I don’t watch all of the games of my brother. Before, I watched more. I went with my father to the final in Glasgow. It was just the two of us because we thought he wasn’t going to play. The crowd at the airport impressed me, both when we went there and when we returned. I don’t get nervous watching him play. My father gets more nervous than I do. I watch the games in silence. I’ve studied business administration, and I like the world of business, and right now I’m working for a company that organizes events.
I liked Barça when I was younger. I watched the games while wearing the shirt of Stoichkov. When I was seven, if Barça lost, I would go to bed crying. Iker supported Athletic because of our dad, and also Madrid, of course. He played there. We didn’t argue much about football. He didn’t argue with me a lot about my support of Barça. My brother is a footballer, but he’s not futbolero. He’s not one of those who spends the whole day watching games. He wasn’t like that when he was younger either. He would go into his room, and spend hours listening to music. I believe I was a better student than he was, but it’s normal, Iker didn’t have time to study with all the games and training sessions. He really liked taking walks.
The day I was the most nervous was when we went to the set of a Hyundai commercial that he was filming with Ronaldinho. I’ve met various Madrid players, but I had never been this nervous. Ronaldinho was very affectionate with me. Iker told him I supported Barça.
I also remember the day that Iker was taken from school to travel with the team to Norway to play Rosenborg. I didn’t see him because he had already left by the time I got home from school, but I remember my mother was hysterical. He had left in a taxi and she didn’t have money at home to give him to pay for the taxi. That was probably the first time that Iker had taken a taxi. We used public transport more.
Unai’s part seems like just a bunch of random memories, thoughts and facts slapped together, no?
Memories of his friends: Julio and Bici.
Julio is a close friend from Móstoles who lived on the same block as Iker. They’ve been inseparable since they were three to four years old, and when they turned five, they began going to school together. Bici is David, Iker’s cousin, his buddy in Navalacruz.
Julio: Iker and I are the same age. We lived next to each other. In school, we sat next to each other, and we went everywhere together. I met Bici when I was eight, because I went to the pueblo with Iker.
David: I’m one year older than Iker, born in 1980. I lived in Ávila until I was 18, but we spent all of the summers, weekends, holidays, Christmases and Easters together. Then I went to live and work in Madrid.
Julio: I always remember Iker being very focused during his training sessions. From the time he was small, he took them very seriously. I think it helped him that he always played with older boys. He wasn’t afraid. He would never shy away if he saw a ball coming at him, one kicked by a boy who was three heads taller than him. In the beginning, he didn’t want to play games or play on a team, he only wanted to shoot around with his father.
David: I always remember him having a ball when we were in the pueblo. Since the streets were sloped, he would go with his father to the highest point. His father would bring along a camera.
Julio: he always wanted to be a goalkeeper. He never allowed those who shot at him – his father, his friends – to take a rest. He never got tired.
David: we already realized what great reflexes he had when we were small. It wasn’t normal. The ball could be shot one meter away and he would get it.
Julio: he would hang from the crossbar and make saves with his legs. He never boasted about being promoted from team to team.
David: we would scold him because as he got older, he missed out on more and more of the town’s festivities. He always had some kind of tournament. He was able to go this year, and he really enjoyed it.
Julio: I began to realize how famous Iker was getting when he won the U-16 Euro. He was already missing school to go on trips. I would see him and TV and I couldn’t believe that he was there. The day that he was taken from school to go to Norway, we were together. We couldn’t believe it. I didn’t believe it until I saw him later on TV, at the airport. It was mind blowing. That morning, he was sitting next to me and by night, he was in Trondheim…
David: in the pueblo, we did many things that can’t be told in a book. We were young boys and we spent the day in the fields, helping our grandparents in the orchards. The summers there were very different than those in Madrid. One summer, he showed up with green hair. The first day I realized that Iker had become someone important was when I went to buy a pack of gum and I got a sticker as a present. I looked at it… and it was my cousin!
Julio: when he was playing in the third division, we would get together after games and what he liked most to do was play Play. He didn’t like to go out too much, but on those days he did, he would have a great time in his own way.
David: one of the best fiestas in the pueblo is the one celebrated on the weekend closest to Aug. 15. Each year, there is a fair, a musical. It’s said that Iker is stingy, but with the pueblo, he’s generous. One year, for his birthday, he brought over a band, organized a fair, put up some tents… and paid for everything. He’s happy to be known as stingy, many times he does things and pays for things to help people economically and he doesn’t want anyone to know.
Julio: he likes bargaining even in street markets. When we went to Cuba, he bargained and bargained, and later, when he had purchased everything he wanted, he gave a tip that was almost more than the initial price. When we left the hotel, he gave away all of the sports clothes he had brought with him to the children that were there.
David: one of the best days of my life was thanks to him. It was the final of the Champions League in Paris. All of his friends and family rented a bus and we went from Ávila to Paris. It took 15 hours. I admit I’m a recalcitrant madridista and when I was younger I would go to the Bernabéu with his player’s card and gate crash whenever I could. We didn’t even look alike, but I would try.
Julio: the truth is that he hasn’t changed at all. That could sound trite, but it’s true. He’s completely natural. Everything he does is normal.
David: well, once in a while he does strange things because he has to do them. Some months ago, we went to a party on Gran Vía and when we came out, we couldn’t move, because he was being stopped with every step he took for an autograph, a photo. So he took a cardboard box that was in front of a stationary store, made two holes for the eyes and put it on his head. That’s how we got to our car.
(Both Julio and Bici can be seen in this Mahou spot with Iker.)