Andres Iniesta bids farewell to Barcelona
7 October 2018
On Sunday evening, the Spanish football legend, Andres Iniesta, brought his unbelievable career at Barcelona to an and, leading his team as the captain for the last time in the 1-0 win over Real Sociedad at the Nou Camp. Barcelona supporters honored him with incredible choreography, ‘Forever Iniesta’ mosaic and incessant roars from the stands. It was only fitting that this was Barca’s final game in the season which they finished first in Primera now four years consecutively.
Iniesta, 34, is leaving the club after 22 years of stellar career. He joined Barcelona when he was 12 years old, debuted under Louis van Gaal in 2002 and spent his entire professional senior career as a midfielder there, winning a total of 32 trophies over 17 years. He won four Championship Leagues and nine La Liga titles, three Club World Cups, six Copa del Rey trophies, as well as a World Cup victory with Spain and two European Championships.
“I’m leaving because I feel this is the right time and I don’t think I can give more than I have already given. I hope I return to Barcelona one day because this is my home and I was really happy here. I’m starting to realize that I want to be a coach in the future, and I want to enjoy football for a few more years”, he said a few days ago. Before the game, he tweeted, “My last game with my people. Many emotions, but proud to live in a moment like that. Barça always!”
Barcelona was in control of the match the whole time. Phillippe Coutinho fired an incredible curler from 25 meters in the second half (57’) securing the victory perfectly to end Barça’s season in style. Iniesta was substituted in the 81st minute, not having scored a goal, but having demonstrated plenty of his midfield prowess throughout the game. He hugged all his team-mates and gave the captain’s armband to Messi while leaving the pitch to standing ovations with tears in his eyes. His former teammate Xavi was cheering for him in the stands, and manager Ernesto Valverde and the team on the substitute bench congratulated him.
When the match finished, the stadium went dark before a light show when all of the Barcelona players came to the pitch to form a guard of honor wearing number 8 Iniesta shirts. The man of the day came out and raised both the La Liga and the Copa del Rey trophies. He gave an emotional speech thanking his team-mates and supporters for showing him nothing but love and respect and saying that Barça would always be in his heart, while 100,000 people were shouting his name.