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June 29 marks exactly ten years from the day Éric Abidal joined FC Barcelona from Olympique Lyon. A decade on, the Frenchman is now a club ambassador and one of the most revered figures in the recent history of the team because of his work ethic and quality on the pitch and his fighting spirit and charm off of it. In this fascinating video, he looks back at his career in an interview with the FCB media – and explains how even as a youngster starting out in the game, Barça was always on his radar.

“My father was a big fan and he liked Diego Maradona a lot. He showed me videos of when he played here and they stuck in my head. After turning pro, Barça was always one of my main targets.”

His dream came true in the summer of 2007 , although as he reveals in the video, first contact had already been made a year earlier.

Read on for some more quotes, and click above to watch the whole thing:

On arriving at FCB

“Adapting to life here wasn’t easy. First I had to learn the language and then get used to the schedule. Here lunches are later and matches can start at 10pm when in France by that time they are all pretty much over.”

On Guardiola

Pep taught us a lot. He taught me to be calm on the pitch but also to be positionally intelligent … There were some very difficult training sessions when you had to face Xavi, Messi and Iniesta on the same side.” 

On great matches

“The Clásicos were always different. The 6-2 win was a great result but what I most remember was the team spirit: working for each other and our star players made the difference.”  

(The semi-finals against Chelsea) “Iniesta, a player who never shoots, shot and it went into the top corner. I missed the final but we are in a team sport.”

On his illness

 “When I was diagnosed with the illness I told my team mates not to worry. They needed to do their job and I would be back before the end of the season. In my head the most important thing was to get better and then to get back on to the pitch.”

 (On lifting the Champions League trophy at Wembley) “Carles Puyol told me to take the captain’s armband as I deserved it.  He said he had spoken to the squad and the coach and everyone agreed. I was telling him not to but he convinced me. I remember lifting the cup but not the atmosphere, I was in my own little bubble.”

On retirement

“In my head no injury or illness was going to stop me going onto the pitch. It needed to be because I was tired not because of an illness. They told me there was a risk of relapsing and I slowly tried to get better. My wife wanted me to stop after Barça but she understands me now, I knew I was capable of playing for a couple more years.” 

On favourite memories

“The best memory I have here is when I lifted the league trophy with Tito. Also, the last match I played here when I was able to bring my cousin out to the middle of the pitch. He deserved it. I managed to get a lot of people to applaud him and I think that represents what Barça is all about. More than a Club, more than a family.”

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