It's official. Andrés Iniesta, one of the greatest players in the Club's history, will leave FC Barcelona at the end of the season. The Barça number 8 announced his departure this Friday in a press conference at the Ciutat Esportiva. "This press conference is to announce publicly my decision that this season will be my last here," he revealed.
“It’s a decision I have given a lot of time and thought to on a personal level and with the family,” he began, barely able to hold back the tears.
Despite the long rumoured departure, Barça fans were hoping for a last minute change of mind. Iniesta, however, explained the reasons for his decision: “There’s no need for people to say they want me to stay. I have always made it clear to the club I wanted to control my ‘stages’ in life and to be as honest as possible with myself and the Club. It’s the main reason towards understanding that my time here is at an end.”
Accompanied by his family, the squad, coaching staff and directors, Iniesta spoke honestly and emotionally. “I don’t want to kid anyone. Soon, I’ll be 34 and I have given everything over the year. Being honest with myself and with the Club that has given me everything, I understand my time here is done due to the simple fact that Club that welcomed me at 12 years of age deserves the best of me,” he added.
The midfielder thanks all concerned: team mates, fans, coaching staff and family and he gave reassurances about a future Barça without Andrés Iniesta. “Lots of players have left. Iniesta will go and Barça will keep winning. Football carries on and life carries on,” reasoned Iniesta.
He arrived at 12 years of age and leaves at 34. 22 years at Barça, 16 with the first team. “I know what it means to play here year after year and the demands in every sense of the word. I know what the responsibility means to be captain at this club,” said the player who arrived as a boy and leaves as a man.
His final gesture: to leave for a team that will not come up against Barça, far from Europe.
A legend leaves, a gentleman. Good luck, Andrés, and see you again soon.