Barcelona centre-back Gerard Pique has announced that he will be leaving club after Saturday’s La Liga clash with Almeria and retiring from football with immediate effect.
The 35-year-old still has another 18 months left to run on his contract with the Catalan giants, while he has made nine appearances for the club in all competitions this term.
However, in a video on social media, Pique revealed that he would be leaving Barcelona following Saturday’s La Liga game against Almeria.
“Culers, it’s Gerard. The last few weeks, months, lots of people have been talking about me. Until now, I haven’t said anything. But now, I want to be the one talking about me. Like many of you, I’ve always been a Barca fan. I was born into a football loving family of Barca fans. From a very young age I didn’t want to become a football player,” he said.
“I wanted to be a Barca player. I’ve been thinking a lot about that kid lately. About what little Gerard would have thought if he had been told all his dreams would come true. That he would make it to the Barca first team.
“That he would win every trophy possible. That he would become European Champion. World Champion. That he would play alongside the best players in history. That he would become one of the team’s captains. That he would make friends for life. It’s been 25 years since I joined Barca.
“I left and came back. Football has given me everything. Barca has given me everything. You, culers, have given me everything. And now that all that kid’s dreams have come true, I want to tell you that I’ve decided that now is the time to bring this journey to its end.
“I’ve always said there would not be any other team after Barca. And that’s how it will be. This Saturday’s game will be my last at Camp Nou. I will become a regular fan. I will support the team.
“I will pass my love for Barca to my children, like my family did with me. And you know me. Sooner or later, I’ll be back. I’ll see you at Camp Nou. Visca el Barca. Always.”
Pique has made 615 occasions for Barcelona, contributing 53 goals and 15 assists in the process.
The defender came through the youth system at Camp Nou before leaving for Manchester United in 2004, spending four years with the 20-time English champions before returning to his boyhood club.
Pique has won eight La Liga titles, three Champions League crowns and seven Copa del Rey trophies during a highly-successful career at Barcelona, and he was again a vital player last term, making 40 appearances in all competitions.
The centre-back has struggled for regular action this term, though, and he could now make one final appearance for the club against Almeria on Saturday night.