Barcelona defender Gerard Piqué has announced his retirement from football, saying Saturday’s game against Almeria will be his last.
In a candid video posted on his social media on Thursday, 35-year-old Piqué said “it’s time to end this stage of my life” after a legendary career at both club and international level.
“Football has given me everything,” he said add. “Barcelona gave me everything. you, the spoon (Barcelona fans), they gave me everything.
“And now that (children’s) dreams have come true, I want to tell you that I have decided that now is the time to bring this journey to an end.”
Piqué has retired a Barcelona great after enjoying 14 trophy-laden years at the club since his return from Manchester United in 2008.
He came through Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy before signing for Manchester United and legendary manager Alex Ferguson, where he won the Premier League and Champions League.
Piqué returned to Barca in 2008, where he became a regular in the first team and one of the best defenders in the world under the tutelage of Pep Guardiola, who is now the manager of Manchester City.
Piqué was an essential part of those famous Barcelona teams, with Lionel Messi, known for his tiki-taka style, being the main focus.
The defender played 615 games – including 396 in the Spanish league and 126 in the Champions League – with Barcelona, winning eight league titles and three Champions Leagues.
This season, Piqué has slumped as Barcelona try to transition into a new era, meaning he has found his playing time limited.
“I’ve been thinking a lot… about what Gerard would think if all his dreams came true,” she said.
“That he would reach the first team of Barca, that he would win all the trophies possible. That he would be a European champion and a world champion. That he would play alongside the best players in history, and that he would become club captain and lifelong friends.
“It’s been 25 years since I joined Barca, I left and I came back. Football has given me everything. I’ve always said that I wouldn’t be in another team after leaving Barça, and that’s how it will be.’
In recent years, there have been rumors that Piqué could be interested in running for the presidency of the Barcelona club. And he stated that his time at the club is not over.
“I will become a regular fan,” said Piqué. “I will support the team. I will pass on my love for Barca to my children, as my family did to me. And you know me, sooner or later, I’ll be back.”
Barcelona president Joan Laporta paid tribute to Piqué, saying he is part of the fabric of the club.
“Piqué is part of Barca’s insignia, he has achieved everything with the club,” Laporta he said.
“He will always be an icon the spoon, has shown more than he wants from Barça. He has been associated with the club for 25 years. 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 forgo 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 strong for the Spanish national team before retiring from international football in 2018.
He won 102 caps with Spain, winning the World Cup in 2010 and the European Championship two years later.
Outside of football, Piqué became the owner of the 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, he is enjoying another great season, currently sitting ninth in the table.
In June, Piqué and Colombian pop star Shakira announced their separation.