Gerard Pique said now is the right time to ‘give space’ to Barcelona during his emotional farewell speech at the Camp Nou on Saturday night.
Earlier this week, the 35-year-old surprisingly announced his decision to retire and his last appearance for Barcelona came in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Almeria at the Camp Nou.
Pique will go down in Barca history as one of the most successful players, helping the club win 15 trophies during his time at Camp Nou, including eight La Liga titles and three Champions League titles.
However, Pique is retiring from football and insists he will return to Barcelona in some capacity in the future.
In his tearful speech on the Camp Nou pitch, Pique said: “Good evening everyone, before I leave you and say thank you, I want to thank my teammates and all the staff, from the physios, the doctors, everyone in the gym, everyone , who take care of us, everyone who helps us every day to make things easier. Thanks to the board for all the years.
“In life, when you get old, there are things that are difficult to love when you have to leave or let go.
“It was a relationship full of love and passion to play for Barca. I think this was the time to give us some space for each other.
“I think it was time to part ways and I am convinced that I will return here in the future.
“This is not goodbye. I left when I was 17 because I thought we needed a break and I needed to grow. I want to tell you that most of you know that the day I was born I was made a member of the club, I was born here and I will die here.”
Speaking on Pique’s decision to retire after the game, Barcelona defender Jordi Alba said: “I’m sorry. I am thankful for everything he has given to all of us.
“He has done a lot for the club. In the end it’s a shame. His absence will be noticed. Not only in football, but also as a person. It’s the law of life.
“He put his soul into every game. It’s a shame. An important piece of the dressing room goes. We will miss him very much. People recognize and are aware of what he gave Barcelona. Let’s try to win titles that we dedicate to him.”
“We didn’t know he would break the news so soon. It was a very tough game. It was a difficult day, different.’
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