Tuesday 08 November 2016, 07:57

Casillas: I haven’t given up on Spain

Iker Casillas believes it was “a wise decision” for Julen Lopetegui to make David De Gea his first-choice goalkeeper, but he hasn’t given up on playing for Spain again.

Lopetegui, a former keeper, signed Casillas for Porto in 2015 but hasn’t picked the 35-year-old since replacing Vicente Del Bosque following UEFA EURO 2016. The 50-year-old selected De Gea, Pepe Reina and Sergio Asenjo for La Roja’s 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ qualifier at home to FYR Macedonia on Saturday and the friendly against England three days later, while he has previously called up Adrian and Sergio Rico. Despite the fierce competition, Casillas.remains hopeful.

"I have not given up on Spain," he told Marca. "If the coach calls me up, I'll be happy. But it is true that I have stepped aside.

"He decided on De Gea and it is a wise decision. As a Spaniard I want them to win and make us all happy."

Spain won 2-0 away to Belgium on Lopetegui’s debut at the reins, and have since seized seven points from a possible nine in Russia 2018 qualifying. That has left them top of Group G, above Italy on goal difference and Albania and Israel by a point.

"Lopetegui's team makes me feel optimistic,” said Casillas. “They are doing a good job. He has promoted many of the squad who won the European U-21 title and he should now start to give them more responsibility."

Casillas, who helped a Spain squad including Carlos Marchena and Xavi win the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 1999, made his senior debt, aged just 19, the following year and has since won a record 167 caps. He also kept five clean sheets during La Roja’s triumphant South Africa 2010 campaign, and finished it with the adidas Golden Glove.