Even in Madrid, Gerard Pique’s retirement has been a central talking point this week in Spanish football. The 35-year-old played his last game at Camp Nou on Saturday night, taking the microphone to deliver tearful goodbye to the stadium he calls home.
The following day, Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti was asked what he thought of Pique as a rival over the years. Marca streamed the press conference.
“Pique… in my personal opinion is one of the strongest central defenders I have ever seen. Very intelligent on the pitch, very tidy.”
“He has decided to stop, I think it is important… for you to decide to stop and not someone else telling you to stop, that it is not easy to do. It is a strong decision and I wish him all the best.”
Pique has been at the heart of what made the Real Madrid-Barcelona rivalry so enthralling ever since Pep Guardiola took the hot-seat at Camp Nou. Comfortable taking on both the press and the players in Madrid, Pique heightened the intensity and the narrative between the two sides almost without fail.
As Ancelotti points out, not many footballers are able to call time on their career at Camp Nou. Spanish football will be less entertaining place for his absence.