Lionel Messi was in tears as he confirmed his departure from Barcelona after 21 years with the club.
Messi was set to sign a new deal with Barca, but is now heading for pastures new – likely Paris Saint-Germain – after the Catalan giants could not afford to fulfill the contract they had agreed.
The 34-year-old took to the stage for a news conference on Sunday, in front of the media, his family, Barca team-mates and club officials.
He was emotional before he even made an opening statement, as he revealed he had never imagined a moment when he would have to leave Camp Nou.
“These recent days I’ve been giving lots of thought to what I could say, and the truth is that I can’t think of anything,” said Messi, who subsequently let the tears flow as he received a standing ovation.
“This is really difficult for me after so many years, being here my entire life, I’m not ready for this and honestly last year with all the nonsense with the burofax I was convinced I knew what I wanted to say but this year is not the same.
“My family and I were convinced I wanted to stay here, that’s what we all wanted more than anything. We thought we’d be staying here in Barcelona, today I have to say goodbye to all of this.
“We’ve always made this our home, we’re at home and we thought we’d be staying here in Barcelona. The time we’ve had here in the city and the sport has been amazing but today I have to say goodbye to all of this.
“I’ve been here so many years, my entire life since I was 13. After 21 years I’m leaving with my wife, my three little Catalan-Argentine kids, and I can’t tell you we won’t come back because this is my home, and I promised my children that.
“I’m just really grateful for the club, my team-mates all the people by my side. All the people, even though some of them I only met a few times.
“I want to say to everyone at this house, for the love that I’ve had to live so many experiences at this club, all of this helped me to grow, helped me to improve and make me into the person I am today.
“I gave everything for this club for this shirt. I’m so grateful for the care that people have shown me. I’ve never imagined having to say goodbye because I never thought of it.
“I never imagined it this way. I imagined it with people in this pitch. I leave this club without seeing the fans for a year and a half. If I’d imagined it I’d imagined it with the Camp Nou full and being able to say goodbye properly.”
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