Real Madrid defender Alvaro Arbeloa says he does not hold a grudge against Gerard Pique as a result of their simmering feud in recent years.
The 33-year-old was given an emotional send-off by the Santiago Bernabeu crowd after coming on for his final home appearance for the club in the 3-2 win over Valencia on Sunday.
Barcelona defender Pique, who reignited a social media battle with Arbeloa this season when he criticised his lack of playing time, said his compatriot fully deserved the reception and admitted his regret that their spats often got out of hand.
And Arbeloa says there should be no hard feelings between the two, telling El Larguero: “I don’t hold a grudge against Pique, despite what he said about me.
“I’m calm because I defended my team and I never disrespected Barcelona or any one of their fans.
“I wasn’t wrong and if I was, I would continue to be wrong my whole life because I’d keep doing it. I tried to be respectful and I believe I was. I’ll keep defending Madrid and the way I have done it has been respectful.”
Former Madrid captain Iker Casillas also praised Arbeloa’s career in the capital and said he fully deserved a rousing farwell from the club he first joined at the age of 18.
The full-back admits they did not always see eye to eye but was grateful for his old team-mate’s support.
“My relationship with Casillas wasn’t the best but that wasn’t because I injured his hand – that was just accidental during a match,” he said. “I’m lucky in that I got along with everyone.
“I’m grateful for what Casillas said because he had no need to and if he said it, it’s because he felt it. Plus. he can say whatever he wants.
“I’m lucky that I’m not spiteful as you can end up destroying yourself like that, and the relationship with Casillas is one of respect.”
Arbeloa’s future remains unclear but he says it would be difficult to imagine returning to the Bernabeu as part of an opposing team.
“I don’t know about Italy. It’d be strange coming here as an opponent,” he said. “I did it with Liverpool, but I hadn’t spent seven years here then and now I have, and it would be strange.”