Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas says he is impressed by the approach of new coach Jose Mourinho ahead of their Primera Division campaign.
Spain captain Casillas lifted the World Cup just a week ago in South Africa, but his thoughts are already beginning to turn to the new domestic season.
Madrid’s World Cup stars were originally due back at the club for pre-season training on August 9, but Mourinho has decided he wants his players to return a week earlier.
“That’s fine,” the goalkeeper said in an interview with AS.
“I have spoken to him a couple of times and I like his way of thinking. He wants the players to come back rested and ready to work. Being world champions makes you forget about everything.”
Casillas anticipates an intriguing battle with fierce rivals Barcelona next season, but believes Spain’s World Cup triumph may have brought the supporters of the two clubs closer together.
“I think we have made the fans (of both clubs) feel more reflected,” he said.
“There are Madrid fans that appreciate (Barcelona midfielder) Xavi, for example, or Catalans who like the dedication of (Real full-back Sergio) Ramos.”
In the meantime, however, the Spain captain says he wants to keep on savouring his side’s World Cup success.
“In South Africa it was a strange sensation. We were so far away and we didn’t know what the atmosphere was like in Spain. We were desperate to get back and celebrate it here and what we have experienced has been unforgettable,” he said.
And Casillas says he is happy to see the triumph being celebrated by the whole country, despite the fact that some regions want independence from Spain.
“That was the best thing of all,” he said.
“We have given a lot of joy to the people. We don’t get involved with politics. I respect the ideologies of everyone, but we have to be centred on our sport.”
Casillas also lifted the European Championship trophy two years ago, but says the World Cup is much more special.
“The Euro is special and it was amazing, but this is four times bigger,” he said.
And the keeper says lifting the famous trophy was the realisation of a dream.
“I wanted this from a young age. I had seen (Lothar) Matthaus, Dunga, (Didier) Deschamps, Cafu and (Fabio) Cannavaro lift the trophy and I wanted that photo as well, not for lifting the Cup itself but for being world champion,” he said.
“When I lifted it to the sky, my dream came true.
“(FIFA president Sepp) Blatter congratulated me and he told me we deserved it, and that we had been the best team in the World Cup.”
Looking ahead to 2012, Casillas hopes Barcelona defender Carles Puyol, who is reportedly set to retire from the international game, can be persuaded to stay on.
“He has his ideas. He told me that what he wanted was to lift the World Cup and I think he’ll say goodbye (to Spain), but we’re all tired at the moment,” he said.
“He is very necessary in this team and he can easily stay on until 2012.”