Kiko Casilla said he was ready for the “pressure of playing again” as he waited to see if Marcelo Bielsa planned to hand him his Leeds United debut this weekend.
In an interview with Marca, Casilla revealed how talks with United director of football Victor Orta sold him a move from Real Madrid and admitted he had “left the comfort zone” by quitting the Bernabeu.
Casilla, 32, joined Leeds on a free transfer last week, signing a four-and-a-half year contract at Elland Road.
Bielsa named him on the bench for Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Stoke City, leaving Bailey Peacock-Farrell in his starting line-up, but Casilla was given a run-out with the club’s Under-23s last night and could make his first-team debut against Rotherham United.
The Spain international said the prospect of working with Bielsa had swayed his decision to quit Madrid but he also credited Orta with convincing him to leave his homeland for England.
Casilla told Marca: “I think that working with a coach like (Bielsa) appeals to many players - the style and the mentality.
“But also Victor Orta came to Madrid expressly to see me and to explain the project - what Bielsa wanted from me, what Leeds are, and between one thing and another everything made me think it over. Here I am.
“I wanted to leave the comfort zone and risk a little, to feel the pressure of playing again, to see how football is lived here and to try this experience. I saw it with very good eyes.”
Casilla was third choice at the Bernabeu and had played just 30 times since returning to the club where he started his career from Espanyol in 2015.
Leeds saw him as a signing who would strengthen their team for the Championship run-in but also provide a suitable top-flight number one if the club win promotion to the Premier League.
Asked what impression Bielsa had made on him, Casilla said: “In Spain he is already known. He works hard, he gets the most out of each player, he squeezes them. He works the training knowing what the opponent is going to do.
“I’ve only had two workouts but he knows what he’s doing and he has a team who are progressing.”