The heart attack that legendary Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas suffered in May 2019 was very nearly fatal. Yet the harrowing experience has helped Casillas make an impact off the pitch.

What is ‘purposeful business’?

Well, there isn’t necessarily a dictionary definition. So instead, what could we infer the term ‘purposeful business’ means or represents?

Purposeful business could be described as doing business in a way that creates long-term societal impact. Businesses that strive to make the world a better place, want to help people often forgotten, and that innovate to aid the common interests of humanity could all be considered to be doing purposeful business. But how does this link to Iker Casillas?

Iker Casillas is one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time. In a career that spanned over 20 years, making over 650 appearances in this time, Casillas made countless incredible saves. Duly nicknamed ‘San Iker’ (Saint Iker) by Real Madrid fans, the shot stopper won over 20 major personal and team honours in both Spain and on the international stage.

Ex-Real Madrid and Porto goalkeeper Iker Casillas has invested in a purposeful business.
Via – https://www.the12thman.in/

A loyal clubman, Casillas always will be a footballing legend.

But to Spanish football fans generally, he represents so much more than that. Earnest, humble, hardworking, committed to the shirt and an all-round ‘decent guy’, the Spaniard has been synonymous with some of his country’s greatest footballing years.

Casillas doesn’t own his own business as of yet (apart from a heavily undocumented spell running his own football agency), and therefore doesn’t have a ‘brand’ in the traditional sense. He does, however, chair his own foundation. The Fundación Iker Casillas aims to improve the lives of the disadvantaged, especially young people, through sport, employment, health and socialisation.

This venture most definitely fits into the bracket of ‘purposeful business’. Yet, in terms of money-generating ventures, Casillas’s personal investments sit close to the heart – quite literally.

Idoven is a technology enterprise that uses ground-breaking artificial intelligence technology to detect heart conditions and defects.

One year on from the Acute Myocardial Infarction (heart attack) that he suffered whilst training with Porto in May 2019, Casillas invested in Idoven. It is understood that Casillas uses the product himself – a monitor that measures electrocardiograms. His involvement in the business can teach us a lot about the idea of purposeful business – ventures that help make the world a better place.

As a retired footballer, Casillas’s dealings off the pitch only enhance the reputation he had whilst playing. In this sense, Casillas’s footballing persona has been translated into off-field activity that draws on the same values he championed during his career.


‘From the first moment I left the hospital after having lived that experience, I had a clear desire to get involved with the cause and do my bit to try to help anticipate some situations that unfortunately are the first cause of death in the world’.

Casillas via Idoven.ai.

Idoven is an example of a purposeful business.
Credit – Idoven.ai

It’s clear to see that Casillas saw this venture as something that he would naturally feel passionate about.

It is also possible that he saw using his wealth to help a cause that affected him so personally as a way to fulfil some kind of moral or ethical obligation in terms of what he would do with his post-football career.

When footballers retire, it can be difficult. But players should always remember that, solely in their profession, they have been privileged.

Nobody is obliged to contribute to, invest in, or support anybody else. So, why do so many footballers in retirement invest in or create purposeful businesses or organisations? Well, doing something that has meaning, for a greater cause, is actually very similar to being a professional footballer.

Because in a team – in a club – it should always be about playing for a greater purpose, the success of the team. As the saying goes: it is far better to give than to receive.  

Being a football player is similar to creating a purposeful business. Most players play for the love of the game, for the badge on the front, and for the fans in the stands – the fans that they used to be themselves.

There is purpose in being a professional footballer – or at least there should be. Values drove Iker Casillas’s time at Real Madrid. It would not be unreasonable to assume similar sentiments apply to many other footballers who strive to fulfil the honour of pulling on the shirt of a certain team. Playing for the club was more than just a job; it was a way of life for the shot stopper.

‘This club has not only taught me to be an athlete, but it has also shaped me as a person, it has helped me grow, instilling in me the values its crest represents: respect, camaraderie, commitment and, above all else, humility. I have always tried to take these values with me wherever I’ve travelled to represent Real Madrid’.

Casillas’s farewell speech – Real Madrid CF

The best brands have meaning behind them. They stem from purposeful business. Organisations that, whilst perfection may not exist, will never stop striving to achieve it to benefit others. Money making and corporate interests do not have to stand off against working with meaning. However, the latter should always influence the former.

As a footballer, self-worth often comes from the achievement of making others happy.

Seeing the fans chanting your name or scoring a match-winning goal, either as the underdog or the favourite, sees you make history and leave your legacy at a club – a club that was there long before the player and will be for a long time afterwards.

Iker Casillas’s investment in Idoven allows him to carry on working for a purpose. It allows him to bring others joy. It allows him to continue leaving his mark in the wider world.

So, if you’re considering going into business, creating a purposeful business doesn’t have to be ‘boring’ or ‘woke’ or restrict your potential for money. It simply means that, when times get tough, your work will be worth it. When you look back on your post-football career, you’ll be able to say…

‘I made a difference. Twice’.

Want to kick off your business career? Chat with Jack about your vision, and get the ball rolling. 

Written/Edited by: Sam Hudspith - JAX Branding Copywriter, Media Accredited - Premier League and EFL, Editor of The Goalkeeping Blog

Published by: Jack Bies - Ex-Footballer, Founder of JAX Branding

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