August 8 (Al Jazeera) – Lionel Messi fought back tears as he began a press conference at which he confirmed he is leaving Barcelona, the football club where he has played his entire career.
He was emotional before he even made an opening statement.
“These recent days, I’ve been giving lots of thought about what I could say, and the truth is that I can’t think of anything,” Messi told a news conference as hundreds of fans, many wearing his number 10 jersey, massed outside Barca’s Camp Nou stadium to bid farewell to the player.
“This is really difficult for me after so many years, being here my entire life, I’m not ready for this and honestly last year with all the nonsense, I was convinced I knew what I wanted to say but this year is not the same.”
“I’ve been here so many years, my entire life since I was 13. After 21 years, I’m leaving with my wife, my three little Catalan-Argentine kids, and I can’t tell you we won’t come back because this is my home, and I promised my children that.
“I tried to behave with humility and respect, and I hope that is what remains of me when I leave the club.
“As long as I go on being competitive and as long as my body responds [I’ll carry on playing],” he added. “As long as I can, I will carry on competing.”
“My contract was never the issue … what I know is that I did everything I could. The club say it could not happen because of La Liga. I can guarantee you that I did everything I could to stay.”
All 35 trophies he won during his time at the club were laid out for what the club described would be a private photo session after the news conference.