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Xavi in tears at Barca’s emotional farewell event

Xavi

An emotional Xavi paid tribute to Barcelona in a farewell event ahead of his final appearance for the club. He thanked manager Luis Enrique for persuading him to stay last summer.

An emotional Xavi paid tribute to Barcelona in a farewell event ahead of his final appearance for the club and thanked manager Luis Enrique for persuading him to stay at the club last summer.

The departing-midfielder announced last month he will join Qatari side Al-Sadd at the end of the season, ending his 24-year run with the Catalan giants. Ahead of Barca’s Champions League final against Juventus, the 35-year-old paid tribute to the club where he is the longest serving and most decorated player, having joined at the age of 11. “I want to thank every member and every fan, I’m very grateful,’ he said at the event.

The trophies are nothing compared to the laughs I had here and the friends I’m leaving behind.  “It’s me who should be grateful – I could never have imagined all the things that have happened to me here. ‘Thanks to Luis Enrique and Zubi (Andoni Zubizarreta), who convinced me not to leave last summer.

I’d have killed myself now if I had left.’ A World Cup winner with Spain, Xavi has made over 500 appearances for the Blaugrana, clinching 24 trophies, including three Champions League and eight Primera Division titles. Xavi reflected on his career as both a club and international player, and paid tribute to late managers Tito Vilanova, who managed him at Barca, and former Spain boss Luis Aragones.

“Tito has been my football father and I will always carry him in my heart,’ he said. “Coach (Luis Aragones), wherever you are, know I will never be able to thank you enough for everything you did for me.” Xavi, who has helped Barca secure the La Liga and Copa del Rey this season, also revealed he hopes to return to the club in the future.

“I hope this isn’t a goodbye, but a see-you-soon. Thanks for everything, Barca.’   Past and present team-mates attended the event at the Nou Camp and players including Andres Iniesta gave speeches.

Iniesta, who has been in Barcelona’s first team with Xavi since 2002, said: ‘We can’t imagine the first workout of next season without you. It’s been a privilege to play alongside you.

“Thanks, Xavi, for always being an example, for always putting the group before yourself. Thanks for all your advice. Thank you Xavi, for all those years, for all the talks, about football and other things.

Those who know you know you will be back.’ There were, however, five notable absences in Lionel Messi, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Gerard Pique, Ivan Rakitic and Rafinha. Messi posted an Instagram snap of the group, which revealed they were caught up in anti-doping control.

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