REAL Madrid legend Iker Casillas and his wife have confirmed they have split just three days after appearing to deny reports of a break-up.
The retired goalie and presenter and model Sara Carbonero admitted their love had “taken separate paths” but said they would remain close to continue the “marvellous job” of raising their two children.
The star couple famously kissed on air during a post-match interview after Spain won the World Cup and have helped each other through serious health scares during their five-year-marriage.
Former Spanish International Iker, who had to quit football after a heart attack, said in an emotional Instagram post in Spanish: “Both Sara and I feel enormously proud of the family we are and of having shared a love that has filled us with happiness during all our years together.
“Today our love as a couple takes different but not distant paths since we’ll continue together in the marvellous task of continuing to be devoted parents as we have been up until now.
“This is a well-considered decision which we have taken through mutual agreement.”
The 39-year-old, father to Martin, seven, and Lucas, four, with Sara, added: “The respect, affection and friendship will remain for ever.
“Our priority is, through affection and compromise, to share the wellbeing and education of our children and protect them so they grow in a stable and healthy environment.
“With these words we ask you please to respect our privacy in this moment of change.
“These will be the only public words we issue for the time being and in the future.
“Many thanks for your understanding.”
The identically-worded statements were posted alongside a photo of the couple in happier times, showing Sara with her arm round Iker’s neck as he touched her hand.
They were published after a week of confusion following a report in Spanish magazine Lecturas claiming they had split.
Hours later a denial, which wasn’t officially attributed to Iker and his wife but cited close friends, appeared in glossy magazine Hola!.
Lecturas claimed the couple had been living apart for months, saying the former Real Madrid and Porto shotstopper had moved into another house near to the family home on the gated estate of La Finca just outside the Spanish capital.
Sports presenter Sara, currently working in radio, announced in May 2019 she had been operated on for ovarian cancer.
Doctors discovered the malignant tumour shortly after the heart attack which brought her husband’s playing career to a premature end.
She underwent surgery at Madrid’s prestigious Ruber International Clinic to remove the tumour before undergoing several months of chemotherapy.
Early last month it emerged she was back in hospital, with Spanish papers reporting she had suffered a cancer relapse although that was later denied.
She is thought to have gone into hospital for an operation but has made no comment on the motive.
Casillas, dubbed Saint Iker for his ability to produce spectacular saves, officially announced his retirement from professional football last August following his May 2019 heart attack.
He made 510 appearances during his 16 years with Real Madrid and is widely regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in footballing history.
He married Sara, once voted the sexiest reporter in the world, in March 2016 three months before the birth of their second child Lucas.
They famously kissed on air during a post-match interview after Spain won the 2010 World Cup.
They married in secret on March 20, 2016 but details of the union only emerged 10 days later.
Sara had declined to comment on the Lecturas magazine reports of a split on Wednesday after dropping her sons off at school.
She told a Spanish TV reporter who asked her how she felt and whether she wanted to say anything: “I’m not going to say anything thank you.”
One well-placed insider said: “The reports of the split were obviously true but it’s evident Iker and Sara wanted to announce it on their terms and in their own way.”