A ‘proud’ and ‘grateful’ Andres Iniesta admits he ‘never imagined’ leaving Barcelona as an icon.
Iniesta was given a farewell by Barca on Friday night in the presence of the first-team squad, coaching staff, former teammates and members of the board, as well as figures from the world of sport and his family.
“I’ve imagined many moments, but I never imagined this,” began the midfielder.
“Twenty-two years have gone quickly since I arrived from Fuentealbilla. Now I’m leaving as a man and with a wonderful family at 34.
“I won’t speak of trophies, but of gratitude. I’ve crossed paths with many people. My gratitude is for what they’ve taught me and how they’ve shaped me. They’re a part of my life.
“Oriol Tort and Albert Benages, who scouted me? Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy more than 650 matches with Barça, Unique moments, unforgettable.
“I’m proud to have grown up at the best club in the world. I want to thank the world of football for the respect they’ve shown me and the Barca fans for their eternal love.
“I’m privileged to have shared all this with you, plus the chants of the last few weeks. I’ll always carry you in my heart.
“To my family, we did it, we sacrificed ourselves and had a dream that we fully realised.
“Dad, what can I say to you? You’re a teacher and a reference point for me. Mum, thank you for what you’ve taught me, an eternal gratitude. Sister, I’m proud to be your brother.
“To my wife, the person who changed my life, thank you for being by my side unconditionally.
“You make me feel like the happiest man in the world. With you, I understood what it meant to be happy.
“To my children, to live with you is to live in another world. Hopefully one day you can feel the same sense of pride towards me.
“To the fans, It’s very difficult to gain their respect and affection. [Theirs is] priceless.”