Ramos surprised by Casillas exclusion from Spain squad
By Richard Martin
BARCELONA (Reuters) - Spain defender Sergio Ramos was surprised to learn that the country's record appearance maker and long-time captain Iker Casillas had been left out of the Spain squad by coach Julen Lopetegui.
The Spain players met up with their new manager for the first time on Monday to prepare for the international friendly in Belgium on Sept. 1 and their opening World Cup qualifier at home to Liechtenstein on Sept. 5.
Casillas was the most high-profile absence from Lopetegui's squad announcement since succeeding Vicente del Bosque, although Pedro Rodriguez and Cesc Fabregas, who won the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012, were also excluded.
"We were all surprised by the absence of Casillas because he is a historic player, not just in Spanish football but on a global level," Ramos told reporters on Monday at Spain's Las Rozas training base.
"It's odd to come here and not see Casillas but it's a decision he took with the new coach. I can't speak for him, all I can do is respect the decision they have taken."
Ramos met with Lopetegui last week.
"I didn't know him but I've got a good first impression and we're going to work together to achieve the objectives we have ahead," said Ramos, vice-captain under Del Bosque and now the team's skipper following Casillas's exclusion.
"Apart from the absence of Iker, which is surprising, the group hasn't changed a lot and the captains and coach want to recover our winning spirit," Ramos added. Continued...