Barcelona and Spain legend Gerard Pique to retire aged 35

LaLiga - Real Madrid v FC Barcelona

One of the finest defenders of his generation, Barcelona’s Gerard Pique has opted to call time on his illustrious career.

Gerard Pique has announced he will retire at the age of 35 and Barcelona’s match against Almeria on Saturday will be his last at Camp Nou.

The defender established himself as a Barca and Spain legend after returning to his homeland from Manchester United in 2008.

Pique has fallen out of favor under Xavi this season and the centre-back revealed on Thursday that he has decided to call time on his illustrious career.

During his time at the Catalan giants, he won eight LaLiga titles and three UEFA Champions League titles, while also winning the FIFA Club World Cup three times and the Copa del Rey seven times.

Pique also experienced glory at international level, winning the World Cup in 2010 and the European Championship two years later as a key member of the great Spanish side.

Pique was booed by Barcelona fans at the Camp Nou during the recent 3-0 win over Villarreal, then defended by head coach Xavi and former team-mate Andres Iniesta.

The backlash was attributed to Pique’s part in the costly 3-3 Champions League draw with Inter and he referred to the debate surrounding him in his announcement.

In a video posted on his social media, Pique said: “The last few weeks, months, lots of people have been talking about me.

“Until now, I haven’t said anything. But now, I want to be the one talking about me.

“Like many of you, I’ve always been a Barca fan. I was born into a football-loving family of Barca fans. From a very young age I didn’t want to become a football player, I wanted to be a Barca player.

“I’ve been thinking a lot about that kid recently, about what little Gerard would have thought if he’d been told that all his dreams would come true. That he would make it to Barca first team, that he would win every trophy possible, that he would become European champion and world champion. That he would play alongside the best players in history, that he would make friends for life.

“It’s been 25 years since I joined Barca. I left, and I came back. Football has given me everything, Barca has given me everything. You, Culers, have given me everything.

“I want to tell you that I’ve decided that now is the time to bring this journey to its end. I’ve always said that there would not be any other team after Barca, and that’s how it will be. This Saturday’s game will be my last at Camp Nou.

“I will become a regular fan, I will support the team.

“I will pass my love for Barca to my children, like my family did with me. And you know me, sooner or later, I’ll be back. I’ll see you at Camp Nou. Long live Barca, always.”

Pique recently split from his wife, Colombian pop star Shakira. He has a host of off-field interests through the investment group he founded, Kosmos Holding.

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