Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has announced his retirement from football, saying Saturday’s game against Almería will be his last.
In a heartfelt video posted to his social media on Thursday, Pique, 35, said “it’s time to end this stage of my life” after a legendary career at club and international level.
“Football has given me everything,” he said. added. “Barcelona gave me everything. You, culeurs (Barcelona fans), gave me everything.
“And now that (this) child’s dreams have come true, I want to tell you that I have decided that the time has come to end this journey.”
Pique is retiring as a Barcelona great, having spent 14 years with the trophy-laden club since returning from Manchester United in 2008.
He came through Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy before signing for Manchester United and their legendary manager Alex Ferguson, where he won the Premier League and Champions League.
Pique returned to Barca in 2008, where he became a first-team regular and one of the best defenders in the world under Pep Guardiola, who is now Manchester City manager.
Pique was a vital part of those famous Barcelona teams, known for their tiki-taka style of play with Lionel Messi as the focal point.
The defender played 615 games – including 396 in the Spanish league and 126 in the Champions League – with Barcelona, winning eight La Liga titles and three Champions League titles.
This season, Pique has fallen down the pecking order as Barcelona try to move into a new era, which means he has found his playing time limited.
“I thought a lot about… what little Gerard would have thought if all his dreams had come true,” he said.
“That he would join the Barca first team, that he would win all the trophies possible. That he would become European champion and world champion. That he would play alongside some of the best players in history, that he would run the club and make lifelong friends.
“It’s been 25 years since I joined Barca, I left and I came back. Football gave me everything. I always said that I wouldn’t be in any other team after I left Barca, and that will be like this.”
In recent years, there have been rumors that Pique could be interested in becoming club president of Barcelona. And he hinted that his time at the club is not over.
“I will become a regular fan,” Pique said. “I will support the team. I will pass on my love for Barca to my children, as my family did with me. And you know me, sooner or later I will be back.
Barcelona president Joan Laporta has paid tribute to Pique, calling him a member of the club’s fabric.
‘Pique is part of Barca’s badge, he’s achieved everything with the club’, Laporta said.
“He will always be an icon for the culeurs, he has more than demonstrated what he wants from Barça. 25 years he has been linked to the club. It was an honor to have him as a Barca player.”
Pique’s contract ran until 2024, but according to La Vanguardia newspaper, the 35-year-old will give up the remaining year and a half of his salary, a move that will help Barca given the club’s well-documented financial problems.
Pique was also a mainstay in the Spanish national team before retiring from international football in 2018.
He earned 102 caps for Spain, winning the World Cup in 2010 and the European Championships two years later.
Outside of football, Pique became the owner of Andorran club FC Andorra in 2018.
Last season the club – which plays in the Spanish league system – was promoted to the second tier of Spanish football for the first time in its history. And this season he is having another stellar season, currently ninth in the standings.
In June, Pique and his longtime partner, Colombian pop star Shakira, announced their separation.