Spain's goalkeeper Iker Casillas attends a training session at the Dinamo stadium in Minsk, October 11, 2012. Spain will face Belarus in their 2014 World Cup Group I qualifying soccer match on Friday. (Photo : REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko (BELARUS - Tags: SPORT SOCCER) )
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have long been the front runners for the 2012 Ballon D'Or, but one player has creeped into conversation as a potential dark horse winner. That player is Iker Casillas of Real Madrid.
Like Us on Facebook
The goal keeper has had a brilliant season that even eclipses that of Ronaldo and Messi in many ways. He won the La Liga Championship with Real Madrid and then won the Euro Cup 2012 with Spain by just conceding one goal the entire tournament. In the process, he became the first keeper to ever win 100 times with their national team. He also set the record for most minutes without conceding a goal.
Despite that, people have stated that keepers get less benefit of the doubt when it comes to consideration for the Ballon D'Or and recent criticism has fueled an Anti-Casillas campaign of sorts.
Real Madrid teammate Raul Albiol has stated that there is a campaign against Casillas for the most coveted individual award in world soccer. He claims that the Spanish press has been bashing the keeper for mistakes in more recent games.
"When these types of criticisms are made, there is an objective," the defender said. "This campaign is to give those who choose the Ballon d'Or one less problem." He furthers his point by stating that while Casillas gets thrown under a bus, other top contenders like Messi, Ronaldo, and Andres Iniesta have een getting lauded. "A keeper should have the same chance as an outfield player, and he has given a lot to Spanish football, the national team and Real Madrid," he added.
A lot of the criticism has come for recent goals that Casillas allowed on set pieces against Manchester City and Barcelona. The more recent one was a brilliant shot from Lionel Messi. Meanwhile, Casillas has stated that he is not bothered by the criticism. "You have to respect people's right to criticize. As long as it's constructive criticism, it's a positive thing," the 31-year old keeper said.
Only legendary keeper Lev Yashin has been honored with the Ballon D'Or in 1963. No other keeper has ever come close.