- Copy link
It was 10.43pm CET. The 82nd minute of the game. It was the moment. Gerard Piqué, winner of 30 titles in an FC Barcelona shirt, was substituted and left the pitch that has been his home, his theatre, his stage for so many years. 92,000 supporters inside a packed Spotify Camp Nou got up on their feet to see off a player who has always worn the club crest with astonishing, admirable pride and passion.
One by one, starting with the referee himself, embraced Gerard Piqué in one of the longest substitutions we might ever see. Every player, ending with Robert Lewandowski, hugged the departing player, followed by Andreas Christensen, who was waiting on the touchline to take his place.
After that, one by one, the scene was repeated with each of the substitutes, each of the coaches... nobody was forgotten. Even the players that weren't in tonight's squad, his lifelong friend Sergi Roberto, and Ronaldo Araujo, Memphis Depay and Jules Kounde.
And the Spotify Camp Nou, in an outpouring of emotion, was still chanting his name. The game wasn't yet over, but all eyes were fixated on just one man. A video to cherish forever. A player to cherish forever. Gerard, thanks for everything!
Lap of honour
Piqué saw out the game sat next to Sergio Busquets as a peculiar silence fell over the stadium. Delighted to be beating Almeria 2-0, it was as if everyone was sharing an almighty lump in their throat, coming to terms with the fact that yet another Barça great had played his last game.
But he was back on the pitch as soon the game was over, receiving the bumps from his team-mates, watching a farewell video on the giant screen, and doing a lap of honour with the highly appropriate Sopa de Cabra song Catalan classic ‘Camins’ being played over the PA system.
“I was born here and I shall die here”
Taking to the microphone, he said “This has been a relationship with so much love and so much passion between Barça and me, and I think this was the moment to create some space, to give ourselves some breathing room. I am sure that I'll be back here in the future."
“This is not goodbye. I left when I was 17 and I came back. My grandfather made me a member the day I was born. I was born here and I shall die here. Long live Barça forever!”
He was given a guard of honour off the pitch by his fellow team-mates. But he wasn't gone. He hadn't played football on the field for the last time. Moments later he was back, kicking the ball around with his two sons.
It had all started before the game had even started. A banner saying ‘Sempr3’ (For3ver) was unfurled on the pitch shortly before the game kicked off.
The whole team came out wearing a Piqué number 3 jersey, and even during the match the word was embroidered on their shirts. This has been a very special night for the boy who always said he didn't want to be a footballer. He wanted to be Barça player. And that's different.
“Piqué, Piqué, Piquenbauer...”, the club will never forget you. One of the greats.
- Copy link