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Real Madrid will turn their fortunes around - Porto's Iker Casillas

Porto goalkeeper Iker Casillas backed his former side Real Madrid to return to form, as he was awarded the 2017 Golden Foot prize.

The Golden Foot is awarded to players aged over 28 and is a recognition of a long career in the game -- with Casillas' long-time rival and friend Gianluigi Buffon of Juventus and Italy winning in 2016.

Monaco's Prince Albert II sponsors the award, which is decided by online voting after a shortlist is drawn up by an international panel of journalists.

Also in the running this year were Casillas' former Madrid teammates Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos, as well as Lionel Messi, Yaya Toure, Manuel Neuer, Arjen Robben, Thiago Silva and Andrea Pirlo.

Speaking to AS at the event in Monaco, Casillas was asked about Madrid's recent stumbles, which have seen them drop eight points behind Barcelona in the La Liga title race, and lose 3-1 at Tottenham in the Champions League.

"Everyone is looking at Madrid wondering what is going on," Casillas said. "This is a team which has won two consecutive Champions Leagues, which is very difficult, had never been done before. Now it seems they are not so good in La Liga and in the Champions League they lost a game to Tottenham. It all looks like problems, but we must wait, there are many games to go. La Liga is very long, and the Champions League does not really start until February."

Casillas, 36, has recently lost his starting spot at Porto, where his contract ends next summer, but the veteran joked that he would not retire until at least a year after Buffon, 39, hangs up his gloves.

"The end of my career is getting closer all the time," he said. "[But] if Buffon can reach 40, I am going to give myself the challenge of retiring at least a year after him. To have an extra year in my career."

Previous Golden Foot winners include Andres Iniesta, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ryan Giggs, Roberto Baggio, Ronaldo Nazario, Roberto Carlos and Ronaldinho. Also honoured at this year's ceremony were Roberto Mancini, Michael Owen, Marcel Desailly, Oliver Kahn and Li Ming.

Casillas left Madrid under something of a cloud in 2015, but the club recognised his Golden Foot win, pointing out the goalkeeper had won 19 trophies during his 16 seasons at the club and also played alongside current coach Zinedine Zidane.

"The Champions League that we won in 2000, the club's eighth European Cup, is one of the most special moments in my career," Casillas said. "What's more, during my time at Real Madrid, I was fortunate enough to play alongside Zidane. A player with tremendous class, everyone enjoyed the way he played the game. Watching him on the ball was a thing of beauty."

Meanwhile, asked about Casillas' current situation at Porto, Spain coach Julen Lopetegui told Cadena Ser: "If one doesn't get to play it makes it all the more complicated, not just for him but for any other goalkeeper. If he doesn't play, it makes it more difficult that he can come [to join the squad].

"Our wish and my desire is that he, just as the rest of the Spain players, get to have a starring role in their respective teams as soon as possible. I'm a little bit surprised [by Casillas being benched] because he was having a magnificent season, he was playing very well."

ESPN FC's Spain correspondent Adriana Garcia contributed to this report.

Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan


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