Iker Casillas has revealed details regarding his well-documented phone call to Barcelona’s Xavi Hernandez that settled the tension in the Spain dressing-room.
The veteran shot-stopper was responding to events surrounding El Clasico fixtures, which had harmed friendships amongst international teammates, particularly the behavior of former coach Jose Mourinho who poked Tito Vilanova in the eye during the 2011 Supercopa encounter.
Xavi and Casillas are vital players for both club and country and have been friends since they were teenagers, but it was the Real Madrid keeper who sought to patch things up for the good of Spain.
“I called Xavi because it was my duty to do so, as the captain, it’s my responsibility,” the 32-year-old 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.” he concluded.
Spain have since won Euro 2012 and reached the final of the Confederations Cup. They finished top of their World Cup qualifying Group last month and have continued their preparations with a friendly match against South Africa. Their first return to Johannesburg since their 2010 World Cup victory saw them lose 1-0 on the night.
Follow Louis Gibberd-Thomas on Twitter: @mercutio156