Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi has penned a classy tribute to old Real Madrid rival Iker Casillas after the Spanish goalkeeper announced his retirement from football.
The 39-year-old, who made 725 appearances for Real during his 16-year career at the Bernabeu, helped Spain win the 2010 World Cup and successive European Championships in 2008 and 2012.
He moved to Porto five years ago, winning the Primeira Liga title twice, but has not played since suffering a heart attack during training last year.
Casillas and Messi faced off in countless Clasicos over the years and the Barcelona forward was keen to share his admiration for the keeper as he hangs up his gloves.
Writing a message in Spanish newspaper AS, he said: ‘Iker retires today, but he passed into the history of football a long time ago.
"Not only because he was a benchmark in La Liga, but also because he managed to win everything internationally."
"You are a spectacular goalkeeper and it was really hard to have you as an opponent."
"But, looking back, I also think that it was a pretty nice rivalry that made us have to outdo ourselves every time we faced each other."
Casillas and Messi could soon be rivals once again, with Real president Florentino Perez expected to offer him a role behind the scenes at the club he joined at the age of nine.
Announcing his retirement, Casillas said: "The important thing is the path you travel and the people who accompany you, not the destination to which it takes you."
"I think I can say, without hesitation, that it has been the path and the dream destination."