Iker Casillas and 5 More Players Who Fell From Grace

​Following Spain’s Euro 2016 exit at the hands of Italy, Iker Casillas announced his retirement from international football after 167 caps and 16 years.

Having made his debut on the world stage at 19 years old, the same age as he won his first Champions League with Real Madrid, Casillas would go on to make 725 appearances at the Bernebeu, winning five La Ligas and three Champions League trophies, as well as one World Cup and two European Championships with Spain.

But in 2013, the 35-year-old started to show signs of poor form – losing his place in the Real Madrid team to Diego Lopez and and eventually being moved on to Porto and ending his 25-year association with the club.

Casillas’ decline has certainly been sad but he hasn’t been the first player to endure a difficult fall from grace…

1. Adriano

Inter Milan v Empoli

One of the most powerful strikers of the mid-2000s, Adriano was a force for Inter Milan and Brazil, scoring 66 goals between 2004-08 at the San Siro​ and 24 goals in 42 caps in the same period.

But allegations over his professional conduct, including skipping training sessions and fitness issues, saw his career grind to a halt. A return to Flamengo in 2009 saw Adriano hit 34 goals in 51 league games before a disastrous move to Roma where his contact was terminated after just seven months into a three-year deal.

After being without a club for two-years, the 34-year-old has recently signed a deal with Miami United in the fourth tier of football in the United States. 

2. Ronaldinho

Barcelona v Celta Vigo

​One of the most gifted and skillful players to have ever graced the modern game, Ronaldinho was a Barcelona legend before a certain Lionel Messi came onto the scene.

94 goals and 69 assists for the Catalan club in his five years at Camp Nou saw the two-time FIFA World Player of the Year at the peak of his powers. But in 2008, the Brazilian magician’s powers were on the wane with criticisms over his attitude and fitness overshadowing his on-the-pitch heroics.

Three years at AC Milan brought reasonable success before his career petered out with spells at Mexican side Queretaro, plus Flamengo, Atletico Mineiro and Fluminese in Brazil.

3. Frank Lampard

Manchester City v Southampton - Premier League

After spending 13 years at Stamford Bridge, earning three Premier League titles and a Champions League medal, Frank Lampard left Chelsea as a legend in 2014 for New York City in the MLS, penning a two-year deal.

Well, that was the plan.

Parent club Manchester City announced Lampard would join on six-month loan prior to the 2015 MLS season, which didn’t sit well with some Chelsea fans.

Then it emerged Lampard would spend the entire season on loan at City, missing a chunk of the MLS season, which didn’t sit well with New York City fans who were outraged that Lampard didn’t honour his original commitment. 

Throw into the mix an equalising goal against his old club Chelsea and the revelation that Lampard never actually signed a New York contract in the first place and the 38-year old managed to alienate his old club and insult his new one.

When he eventually got to New York after making a poor first impression, injuries and below-par performances suggested Lampard was finished and was recently decried as the worst signing in MLS history.

4. Nicolas Anelka


​A man with more clubs than friends, or so it would it appear, Nicolas Anelka played for 12 different clubs, half of those in the Premier League and with varying degrees of success. Much more recent history saw Anelka play a huge part in Chelsea winning the league and cup double in 2010 before the acrimonious fall-out from France’s World Cup.

Anelka verbally abused coach Raymond Domenech at half time during defeat to Mexico and was sent home, with several of France’s team members refusing to train in protest at the decision. When he refused to apologise to the French Football Federation, he was hit with an 18-game ban ending his international career.

After shacking up at West Brom in 2013, the striker was involved in the ‘quenelle’ controversy over an anti-Semitic hand gesture and subsequently fined and banned.

Anelka then announced his willingness to terminate his contract on social media, without letting club officials know, which eventually saw him sacked for gross misconduct, so he kind of got his wish.  

His latest venture is player-coach of Mumbai City, being less-known for his goalscoring and more remembered for his bad attitude.

5. Adrian Mutu


Adrian Mutu came to Chelsea in 2003 as one of the hottest properties in Italian football. With Roman Abramovich splurging almost £16m for the striker from Parma, big things were expected of him.

25 Premier League appearances in his first season yielded just six goals but the worst was yet to come. In 2004, Mutu failed a drugs test after testing positive for cocaine and was sacked by Chelsea and banned for seven months.

A five-year spell with Fiorentina reignited his career, but in 2010 he yet again failed a drugs test and was banned for six months.

A suspension for going AWOL from the Viola followed, plus another from the Romanian national team for drinking while they were playing San Marino. Insulting coach Victor Piturca by posting a mocked up picture of him as Mr. Bean on Facebook probably didn’t help, either.

Nice guy, Mutu.

The original version of this story which was published by 90min.com Serie A can be viewed here.

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