BARCELONA, July 14- Former Barcelona captain Xavi Hernandez hit out on Tuesday at Real Madrid for the “lame” way they handled the departure of their star goalkeeper, his friend Iker Casillas.
“To me, his departure from Real Madrid stinks. It’s a pity. It seems lame,” Xavi wrote in an open letter published in the Catalan newspaper La Vanguardia.
“How can you not appreciate Iker?” Xavi added. “For me he is the most decisive goalkeeper in history.”
Casillas, 34, announced his decision to leave for Portuguese side FC Porto after 25 years with his boyhood club in a tearful solitary press conference on Sunday, following a brief statement by Real Madrid.
The club’s president Florentino Perez then moved to quash talk of bad blood between Madrid and Casillas by summoning the outgoing captain to appear with him at a surprise tribute at the Santiago Bernabeu on Monday.
The rushed departure contrasted with the mass tributes organised by Barcelona for Xavi when he left Barca for Qatari side Al-Sadd at the end of last season.
“I consider myself a fortunate exception, but Iker deserved the same treatment he always gave to others,” Xavi wrote.
Casillas and Xavi, 35, are childhood friends and former brothers-in-arms in the Spain squad that won the 2010 World Cup and the last two European Championships.
Despite being the captains of the two biggest rivals in Spanish sport, they made public gestures of friendship, with Casillas calling Xavi in a conciliatory gesture during high tensions between the two clubs in 2012.
Xavi said that gesture helped “save the national team” from damaging tensions between members of the rival clubs within the Spain squad.
For that gesture, they were jointly given Spain’s Prince of Asturias Award for Sport, a top civil honour.
“We cannot allow sportspeople in Spain to grow up without being respected, without being appreciated for all they have done for their sport, but rather having their faults exposed, sometimes maliciously,” Xavi wrote.