Barcelona midfielder Xavi has paid a heartfelt tribute to teammate Carles Puyol, who will leave the club as a player at the end of the season.
Both players appeared at a Press conference after a special farewell event held in honour of Puyol today.
“I speak in the name of everyone,” Xavi, who came through the Barca ranks alongside the departing player, said in front of the assembled media.
“This moment seemed so far away when we first reached the first team but now it is here. Time passes for everyone, and it seems to go even faster for sportsmen.
“The words that have been heard most today are ‘thank you.’ We have a lot of things to thank you for – sacrifice, bravery and generosity.
“I will never forget the final at Wembley when I told you that you should lift the Champions League trophy despite the fact you had only played a few minutes.
“But then you said to me, ‘No Xavi, Abidal should lift this cup.’ You gave me a lesson in life.
“You have always been thoughtful towards everyone, to injured players, to players who weren’t playing much. You have always offered them friendship and advice.
“You gave everything for the team. I remember the foot-tennis matches we would have in the dressing room and you would do bicycle kicks on the wooden floor! You are the most professional guy I have ever shared the dressing room with.
“You were there when we weren’t winning and when we were winning everything. Because of that, we were able to value what we had achieved.
“I am very proud to have shared my career with you and I would love to share a future project with you at the club of both our lives.
“You are a symbol of Barca and the club needs you.”