Barcelona defender Gerard Piqué has announced his retirement from football, saying Saturday’s game against Almería will be his last.
In a heartfelt video posted on his social media on Thursday, the 35-year-old Piqué said “it is the moment to end this stage of my life” after a legendary career at both club and international level.
“Football has given me everything,” he added. “Barcelona has given me everything. You, culers (Barcelona fans), have given me everything.
“And now that (this) 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.”
Piqué retires a Barcelona great, having enjoyed a trophy-laden 14 years at the club since returning from Manchester United in 2008.
He came through Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy before signing for Manchester United and its legendary coach Alex Ferguson, where he won the Premier League and the Champions League.
Piqué returned to Barca in 2008, where he blossomed into a first-team regular and one of the world’s best defenders under the tutelage of Pep Guardiola, who is now Manchester City’s manager.
Piqué was a vital part of those famous Barcelona teams, known for it’s tiki-taka style of play with Lionel Messi the main focal point.
The defender played 615 games – including 396 in the Spanish league and 126 in the Champions League – with Barcelona, winning eight La Liga title and the Champions League three times.
This season, Piqué has fallen down the pecking order as Barcelona attempt to transition to a new era, meaning he’s found his playing time limited.
“I have been thinking a lot about … what little Gerard would have thought had all his dreams come true,” he said.
“That he would make it to the Barca first team, that he would win every trophy possible. That he would become a European champion and world champion. That he would play alongside some of the best players in history, and captain the club and make friends for life.
“It has been 25 years since I joined Barca, I left and I came back. Football has given me everything. I have always said that I would not be in any other team after I left Barca, and that is how it will be.”
In recent years, there have been rumors that Piqué could be interested in running to become Barcelona’s club president. And he hinted that his time at the club is not over.
“I will become a regular fan,” Piqué said. “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 will be back.”
Barcelona president Joan Laporta paid tribute to Piqué, calling him part of the fabric of the club.
“Piqué is part of the Barca badge, he has achieved everything with the club,” Laporta said.
“He will always be an icon for the culers, he has more than demonstrated what he wants from Barca. 25 years he has been linked to the club. It has been an honor to have him as a Barca player.”
Piqué’s contract ran until 2024, but according to La Vanguardia newspaper the 35-year-old will forego the remaining year-and-a-half of his salary, a gesture that will help Barca given the club’s well documented financial problems.
Piqué was also a stalwart for the Spanish national team before retiring from international football in 2018.
He earned 102 caps for Spain, winning the World Cup in 2010 and the European Championships two years later.
Outside of football, Piqué became the owner of Andorran club, FC Andorra, in 2018.
Last season, the club – which plays in the Spanish league system – was promoted to the second tier of Spanish football for the first time in its history. And this season, it is enjoying another stellar season, currently sitting in ninth in the table.
In June, Piqué and longtime partner Colombian pop star Shakira announced they were separating.