Alvaro Arbeloa has looked back on his Real Madrid career as he prepares to play at Santiago Bernabeu for the final time.
The defender will leave Los Blancos this summer and ahead of the game against Valencia, Madrid’s final home game of the season, Arbeloa has spoken to Marca about his Bernabeu tenure.
“If I’m honest I didn’t want to think about it. It’s true that yesterday I got up and saw the Marca story about my farewell to the Bernabeu and the messages on social media and my hair stood on end. You see your special day arriving. But until then I hadn’t wanted to think about it,” he revealed.
“It’s sad and melancholic that you’re leaving behind the best of your life. I know that wherever I go I will not find the happiness I’ve had here, but it was a day that had to come. I leave with the joy of being able to say goodbye to the fans and the club. That’s the best thing.
“The first thing I want is to win the match to continue fighting for the title. Then, when that’s finished, to go to the middle of the pitch to say goodbye to the fans for having shown me so much love. If I do that I’ll be happy.
“I’m not ready to cry and I hope I don’t, but if I cry it’ll be happiness, that’s certain. I’m a person who always hides my emotions and we’ll see this time. It will be a moment of many emotions and it’ll be difficult to know how I’ll carry them. But I hope it’s all natural.
“I’m glad to have had seven years here and certainly I never thought I’d be here so long. I look back and feel only pride. It’s a sad moment because leaving Madrid is never easy but looking back I feel satisfaction and pride. It was a very happy time in my life, the best I’ve had here.
“Playing for Madrid is a privilege, probably the greatest you can have as a player. For me it was the greatest, playing for Madrid, training every day at Valdebebas. It’s been a source of daily happiness to wear this shirt and then I had the good fortune to win trophies.
“Also, I had the support of all the Coaches, from [Manuel] Pellegrini, my admired and loved [Jose] Mourinho, Carlo [Ancelotti], Rafa [Benitez] and the one who was my idol as a child, [Zinedine] Zidane. And of course, training every day with the world’s best players was a privilege, a challenge. I won a lot of trophies, but there’s nothing like the feeling of the happiness of Real Madrid every day.
“It’s hard because I want to feel useful and there have been many times this year when I wanted to be on the pitch but I couldn’t be. You don’t want to be at Madrid because of the past but for what you can contribute in the future. It’s time to say goodbye and it’s the right time.
“I leave a great legacy in my teammates. There are great guardians of Madrid, such as [Sergio] Ramos, Casemiro, [Dani] Carvajal, Nacho, and people from outside who are very much Madridistas, such as [Luka] Modric, who from day one has defended this club. I hope they defend Madrid as I have done.
“I’d like to thank Madrid for the years of love to me and my family. I’m indebted to them forever. I defended this shield above all and always applauded the ones in white, who are our own.
“How would I like to be remembered? As a fan who came here many years ago and saw the games and has been lucky enough to walk on the grass and defend Madrid on the pitch. I’m one of yours.”