Gerard Pique has said now is the right time to ‘give space’ to Barcelona during his emotional farewell speech at Camp Nou on Saturday evening.
Earlier this week, the 35-year-old surprisingly announced his decision to end his playing career, and his final appearance for Barcelona came on Saturday in their 2-0 win over Almeria at Camp Nou.
Pique will go down as one of the most successful players in Barca’s history, helping the club win 15 trophies during his time at Camp Nou, including eight La Liga titles and three Champions Leagues.
But retiring from football, Pique insists he will return to Barcelona in some capacity in the future.
In his tearful speech on the pitch at Camp Nou, Pique said: ‘Good evening to everyone, firstly before I leave you and say my thank-you, I’d like to thank my teammates, and all the staff, from the physios, the doctors, everyone in the gym, everyone who takes care of us, all of those who help us day in, day out to make things easier. Thanks to the board for all of these years.
‘In life when you get old, there are things where loving them is difficult when you have to leave them, or let them go.
‘It’s been a relationship of a lot of love and passion to play for Barca. I think this was the time to give us some space to one another.
‘I think it was time to part ways and I’m convinced that in the future I will come back here.
‘This isn’t a goodbye. I left when I was 17 because I thought we needed a break and I had to grow. I’d like to say to you, most of you know that I was made a club member the day I was born, I was born here and I will die here.’
Speaking about Pique’s decision to retire after the game, Barcelona defender Jordi Alba said: ‘I feel sorry. I’m grateful for everything he’s given to all of us.
‘He’s done a lot for the club. In the end it’s a shame. His absence will be noticed. Not only in football, but in human terms. It is the law of life.
‘He has left his soul in every game. It’s a shame. An important piece of the dressing room is leaving. We are going to miss him a lot. People realise and are aware of everything he has given Barcelona. Let’s try win titles to dedicate to him.’
‘We didn’t know that he would give the news so soon. It was a very hard game. It was a difficult day, different.’
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