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With a broken heart, Leo Messi has said goodbye to FC Barcelona in an emotional press conference accompanied by his family, members of the Barça first team and in which he declared his eternal love for the Club with which he has won no less than 35 trophies.
Following President Joan Laporta's explanation of the reasons behind Messi's departure, it was the turn of the Argentine to say farewell to the Club and the fans who have idolised him for all these years. The Argentine came out at the Auditori 1899 at Camp Nou visibly emotional and in tears he began a press conference that will live in the memory.
At the start of his appearance, Messi broke down as he explained his feelings: "Over the last few days I have been thinking about what I was going to say, what I could say. The truth is that I am stuck, it's really difficult for me after so may years, a whole life. I was not prepared. I was convinced I was staying, at home, that's what we wanted. We always placed our own happiness first, being at home, enjoying life in Barcelona on sporting and personal level."
Before answering questions from the media, Messi added: "It's time to say goodbye...it has been a long time, a whole life. I arrived here at 13 years of age and I cannot be more proud of what I have done and experienced in this city where I will surely return one day, that I have promised to my kids also. I want to thank all may team mates and former team mates. I have always tried to behave with humility and respect and I hope that is what stays here with people, as well as everything I had to fortune to give to the Club."
Furthermore, Messi dedicated words to the fans who have supported right until his final day: "I would also like to thank the people's affection towards me, I would have liked to say goodbye in a different way. To be able to do it out there on the field, hear my last ovation, have them close, hear the cheering...I leave the Club without having seen them for a year and a half. I have felt the recognition and the love that I also feel for the Club. Let's hope I can return at some point and help as best I can because this Club is still the best in the world."
One he had finished his initial speech and after an endless ovation, Messi took questions from the assembled media. Asked about his favourite memory, the Argentine replied: "It's very difficult to just think of one moment. There have been many good ones and some bad but perhaps the moment that stays with me is when I made my debut, which was the start of my dream coming true."
With regards to the breakdown in negotiations in recent days, the Argentine said: ""Everything was agreed and then at the last moment, because of the issue with La Liga, it could not be done. I did all I could to stay, that's what I wanted but it could not be done. I accepted a 50% pay cut and after that nothing else was asked of me. I feel so sad to leave the club I love at a moment that I did not expect. I never lied, I was always up front."
It was difficult goodbye as Messi himself explained: "A lot of things go through my head, I am a little stuck for words and I have not really taken in the reality that I am leaving this club and my life is going to change completely. I have been in the first team for 16 years and now I have start from zero and it is a change for all my family. I have to accept it, digest it and start from scratch."
Leo Messi admitted that this was the "most difficult moment of my sporting career. I have had a few difficult moments, many defeats but nothing like this. There is no coming back, it's the end at this Club and now a new story begins. I grew up with the values of this Club, humility and respect and that's how I have worn the Barça shirt everywhere and that I am recognised for this is part of my football and me."
Looking back Messi explained when he decided he wanted to stay: "After the elections I went to dinner with Laporta and after that I was convinced I was going to stay. My contract was never a problem and then what happened, happened and it was not to be. I have always been up front with the members and fans, what was important for me was to tell the truth to the people who gave me so much, as I did for them. We have grown up and had fun together."
Finally, Messi had a message of hope for Barça fans: "Barça is the biggest team in the world and they have a great squad. The Club is more important than anything and people will get used to that. At first it will be strange but they will come around."
Thank you, Leo.
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