The message quickly gained traction on social media, racking up well over 100,000 likes before being deleted, with thousands of replies including one from the verified account of Casillas’ former Spain team-mate and Barcelona defender Carles Puyol, which read: “It’s time to tell our story, Iker.”
Casillas, who made over 500 appearances for Real and led Spain to their first World Cup triumph in 2010, then clarified: “Hacked account. Luckily everything in order. Apologies to all my followers. And of course, more apologies to the LGBT community.”
The 41-year-old left Real to join Porto in 2015. He suffered a minor heart attack in 2019 and announced his retirement from professional football in August the following year.
Before his clarification tweet, media outlets in Spain said that Casillas was trying to make a point over continual prying into his love life from tabloid newspapers.
Casillas’ actions were widely condemned on social media, with many saying that the “joke” will discourage gay footballers to come out. Josh Cavallo, a gay Australian football player, tweeted: “@IkerCasillas and @Carles5puyol joking and making fun out of coming out in football is disappointing. It’s a difficult journey that any LGBTQ+ ppl have to go through. To see my role models and legends of the game make fun out of coming out and my community is beyond disrespectful.”
Back in May, Blackpool's Jake Daniels became the UK's first male professional footballer to come out publicly as gay since Justin Fashanu in 1990, while Gala Fairydean Rovers’ Zander Murray announced he is homosexual last month.