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Theemotion was there.At both CampNou andthe Auditorium1899.His family, his wifeNúria, his parentsJoachim andMariaMercè, his siblings Àlex, Òscar i Ariadna...it was too much forXavi to resist.AndrésIniestaspokeon behalfof histeammatesand induced the first tears.Hourslater,Xavi sat down with BARÇA MAGAZINE to talk about everythinghe feltthe dayhe said goodbyetothe fansandwhen he received recognitionof the Club.
Onthe stage of theAuditorium1899,with family, friendsand football peoplethat have accompanied youthroughout this journey, youlet go...
"I wastense,everyonewas waiting,andI wasnervousbecausewe hada UEFA anti-doping test and I thought we might haveto cancelthe event...I hadprepared a note because I didn't want to leave anyone out, becauseI am verygrateful to theCluband to everyone.I could seethe familyin the first row,and friends... wow!, it was very emotional.But whenAndrésspoke itliberated meand Ibecame less tense.I thought,look,'you've already madea fool of yourself.'I was more relaxed."When Andrés spoke it liberated me and I became less tense.
It was clear in your speech that you're a thankful person.
"I saidwhat I had tosay,theway Iwanted to say it,and happily,because of the way Barça treated me, the Club, the president, my teammates... it wasadreamfarewell.Ifwe hadwritten a scriptat the beginningof the season,we wouldn't havebeen this demanding.I am veryhappywith howeverything went."
How many times have you thought, 'What if I had left last summer?'
"Imaginelast year,leavingwithouttitles, with no eurforia...not to take anything away from our football, butwe know that's whenBarça doesn't win, we have to get rid of tenplayers, everyone isangry... imagine having to make afarewellwith the people upset.Nowpeople are euphoric, happy, content,it just so happenedthatwe wonthe leaguea week earlyso I they could do the tributeat home...The truth is thatit is acustom made scriptmadeand I'm verygladIstayedone more year,that [Andoni] Zubizarreta, Luis [Enrique] and PresidentBartomeuconvincedme, becauseI knewI had toleave at some point andI am very stubborn, but they convinced me in two orthree meetings,so nowI am veryhappy."
What do you want to take away from your farewell?
“Everything ... everyone was there,presidents,ex-managers,ex-teammates, friends,family...my wife Núria was there, my parentsand my brothers, who were most excited.Ilookedat them, I got emotional...and I was trying toavoid it,but Iwanted to speak tothem...It wasimpossible not toget choked up.
Now your life is going to completely change. You’re leaving Barça after 24 years and about to become a father. How are you dealing with it?
“Having a child makes you think a lot. A new part of my life is beginning, we’re all going to Qatar, most of the family and we’ll be parents by the end of the year. A new stage of our lives is beginning and we intend to enjoy it. But I’m very happy that I’m going to be a father, really. My family is very important to me. It’s the biggest thing that I have. I have a fantastic family, they have brought me up well and I’m very proud of them. Everyone says having a child is the biggest thing there is. I’ve never experienced that but I’m very excited about it”.
And when you show your child the picture with all the cups?
“I’ll be very proud to be able to explain what I’ve experienced, when he or she is old enough to understand we can look at the photos and he or she will see what a good time I had and what a privilege it was for me to form part of Barça at this time, with such a generation of footballers. I want my child to see how much I have enjoyed life”.
You are leaving as the player with the most titles and most appearances ever for the club. What single memory stands out for you?
“I know that eventually my record will be beaten, perhaps by Andrés and Leo, and they’ve only got one title less than me so they’ll top that next season. But I’ll just remember the joy of being able to play for Barça, my life-long club and how lucky I have been. I don’t judge my career by titles, I mainly judge it by how much I have enjoyed being with my team-mates, all the experiences. I’m satisfied and proud, I have inner peace from knowing that I performed well and did my very best”.
Did you expect such a show of affection from the people on the day of your farewell at the Camp Nou?
“I was relaxed at first, but as the people started coming into the ground I started to realise that that day I was going to be the centre of attention more than ever. I knew that a tribute had been arranged for me and I don’t like having all the attention on me like that. I just want to enjoy playing football. But that was an incredible tribute. The stadium chanting my name, going on a lap of honour on my own, the players lifting me up… And then I saw how emotional Núria and my parents were, so I got emotional myself. It was incredible, insuperable”.
Everybody has been thanking you these last few days. How does that feel?
“I also said thank you on the day of the tribute. People stop me in the street and thank me, but the person who should be saying thank you is me! For being able to play for Barça and be so privileged! All that affection is only thanks to Barça! I am proud of that, I sense their admiration and recognition, it’s extraordinary, so I’m really pleased and want to thank the fans for making the last few home games so special. I couldn’t ask for more. I’m so grateful, and yet I’m surprised that so many people want to say thank you. I know that we’ve won a lot of things and in such a great way, and I think that’s because we’ve played good football. I’m happy with everything, for having made history at Barça. When I was a youth player I never imagined I’d win so much at Barça, or that we’d go down in history as one of the greatest teams the club has ever had. It’s all been so amazing and I’m so grateful”.
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