Spain captain Casillas celebrates with a TV kiss

Mon Jul 12, 2010 12:53pm EDT
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By Iain Rogers

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Iker Casillas crowned a spectacular run as Spain captain when he hoisted the nation's first World Cup and celebrated by planting a kiss on his TV presenter girlfriend in front of millions of viewers back home.

After a patchy season for Real Madrid, Casillas had come under fire for a perceived lack of focus following the 1-0 defeat by Switzerland in their opening Group H match.

The presence in South Africa of the glamorous Sara Carbonero, who works for Spanish broadcaster Telecinco and conducts post-match interviews, was seen as a distraction but "Saint Iker" has silenced his critics in emphatic style.

Two years after leading Spain to glory at Euro 2008, the 29-year-old has become the Iberian nation's most successful captain, pulling off a string of vital saves in their run to the World Cup final, where Andres Iniesta's goal deep into extra time gave them a dramatic 1-0 win over Netherlands Sunday.

"I am over the moon," he told reporters at the Soccer City stadium, moments after breaking down in an ecstatic mixture of tears and laughter at the final whistle and triumphantly lifting the gilded trophy.

"We have deserved this from start to finish," he added. "I want to thank everyone who has supported me."

Casillas has amassed 111 appearances for the national team since making his debut in June 2000 at the age of 19 and is closing in on fellow keeper Andoni Zubizarreta's record of 126.

He was awarded the "Golden Glove" prize for best goalkeeper in South Africa and it is tough to pick out the best, or most important, save he pulled off over Spain's seven matches.   Continued...

<p>Spain's goalkeeper Iker Casillas kisses the World Cup trophy as team mate Carles Puyol (R) celebrates after their final match victory over Netherlands at the 2010 World Cup at Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg July 11, 2010. REUTERS/David Gray</p>