By Coral Barry

Iker Casillas has admitted he sympathises with Rafael Benitez for how he was treated Real Madrid.

Benitez spent seven months struggling to satisfy the Spanish giants before he was axed and swiftly agreed to accept the task of saving Newcastle from relegation.

Casillas is regarded as a Real all-time great after 16 years at the club and a remarkable 18 trophies, but the goalkeeper has revealed Benitez had nothing to do with his departure last summer to Porto.

Casillas has suggested that the Spaniard got a raw deal at his boyhood club.

“It [Real] is a difficult club. It’s not good when a coach leaves,” said Casillas speaking to El Laguero. “The decision is taken in the search for what is best.

“I feel sorry for Rafa. I spoke with him in Madrid. He didn’t suggest I wasn’t going to play and he knew I was talking to the club about leaving.

“He was worried about me. I spoke to him recently and shared memories [of the club].”

Daryl Janmaat

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Benitez’s focus is now on cutting the gap between Newcastle and safety, with the Magpies second from bottom of the table.

Newcastle picked up their first point in five league games in their last match against Sunderland and will travel to Carrow Road to face fellow relegation-fighters Norwich on Saturday.

Norwich are currently occupying the final safe spot from the drop in 17th and the north-east club cannot afford to lose the clash.

In other Newcastle news, Benitez is facing a defensive crisis as the Norwich showdown fast approaches.