Soccer player Gerard Piqué has announced his retirement from the sport, telling supporters in a social media clip that it’s now “time to bring this journey to its end.”
The Barcelona defender, 35, shared a heartfelt clip on Instagram Thursday, ahead of what would be revealed as his final game against Almería on Saturday. Piqué, who joint-announced his split from longtime girlfriend Shakira in June, joined the club’s academy in 1997 and returned to Barcelona in 2008 after a stint with Manchester United.
“The last few weeks, months, people have been talking about me,” Piqué said in the video. “Until now, I have not said anything, but now I want to be the one who is talking about me.”
While the clip began with newer footage of the soccer star, it also featured throwback videos of him as a young kid kicking around a ball. As Piqué explained, he’s been a Barcelona fan after being “born into a football-loving family,” and his goal wasn’t even to be a pro soccer player — it was to specifically play for Barcelona.
“Recently, I have thought a lot about that kid. If he had been told he would fulfill all his dreams, that he would play for Barca, that he would win every trophy possible, that he would be a European and world champion. That he would play with the best players in history, that he would become one of the team’s captains,” he shared. “Football has given me everything. You, the fans, have given me everything. And now my childhood dreams have been fulfilled, I want to tell you that I’ve decided that now is the time to bring this journey to its end.”
With his final game at Camp Nou taking place Saturday, Piqué revealed that it’s now time for him to “become a regular fan” and pass down the tradition of loving the team to his kids — Milan, 9, and Sasha, 7, whom he shares with Shakira, 45.
“And you know me, sooner or later I will be back. See you at Camp Nou. Visca Barca, always and forever,” he concluded.
Piqué has won eight LaLiga titles and three Champions Leagues during his stay in Barcelona, ESPN reported. Before moving on from international soccer in 2018, he helped Spain earn the World Cup in 2010 and the European Championship in 2012.
He played a total of 615 games with Barcelona, CNN said, and there have been rumors in recent years suggesting he may want to run for Barcelona’s club president.
“Piqué is part of the Barca badge, he has achieved everything with the club,” President Joan Laporta shared in a statement. “He will always be an icon for the culers, he has more than demonstrated what he wants from Barca. 25 years he has been linked to the club. It has been an honor to have him as a Barca player.”
Pique and Shakira announced their split in early June, after they first confirmed their relationship in March 2011. The former couple met on the set of her music video for “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa),” which served as the official song of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
“We regret to confirm that we are separating,” they shared in a joint statement. “We ask for privacy at this moment for the well-being of our children, who are our maximum priority. Thank you in advance for your understanding and respect.”
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The couple made sporadic red carpet appearances throughout their decade together, and Shakira would often support him at his soccer games and bring their two children.
In a September interview with Elle, the musician referred to grieving the relationship as “the darkest hours of my life,” and said music has helped her through it. “I’ve remained quiet and just tried to process it all,” she said. “It’s hard to talk about it, especially because I’m still going through it, and because I’m in the public eye.”
“Regardless of how things ended or how Gerard and I feel about each other as ex-partners, he is the father of my children. We have a job to do for these two incredible boys, and I have faith that we will figure out what is best for their future, their own dreams in life, and what is a fair solution for everyone involved,” Shakira continued, adding, “And I hope and would appreciate if we were given the space to do that privately.”