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‘You will always be in my heart’ – Iniesta bids emotional farewell to Barcelona

Iniesta is leaving Barca this summer, 22 years after joining the Catalan club’s academy.

Andres Iniesta had a quiet moment to himself on the Nou Camp pitch in the early hours of Monday morning after playing his final game for Barcelona on Sunday night.

Pictures and video on social media from around 1am on Monday local time show Iniesta sitting on his own in the centre circle, with the stands around him empty, apparently taking photographs on a phone.

The 34-year-old midfielder is leaving Barca this summer, 22 years after joining their academy.

The vast haul of trophies he has won over that time includes four Champions League and nine LaLiga titles.

In a video that appeared on Iniesta’s Twitter feed at around 1.40am local time, he said: “Hello everyone, I’m still here. It’s hard for me, it’s hard for me to go. Thank you for all the love, it’s been a magical day, an unforgettable day. You will always be in my heart.

“Many years, many feelings, many emotions, but without doubt I will never be able to return all the love and respect that you’ve shown me during this time. A big kiss for everyone.”

His performance during Barca’s 1-0 win over Real Sociedad at the stadium on Sunday concluded with his substitution in the 82nd minute, and he received a rapturous reception as he departed the field.

Iniesta, who had had tears in his eyes, then addressed supporters on the pitch after the final whistle, with him quoted by Marca as saying: “I will move on and carry you all in my heart forever.

“It’s been a wonderful 22 years, full of pride, and it’s been a pleasure to represent this club.

“I thank you for all the love and respect that you’ve given me since I arrived as a child, I now leave as a man.”

Before the game, a mosaic had been formed in the stands, turning Iniesta’s number eight on its side to form the infinity symbol. Iniesta signed a “contract for life” with Barcelona last October.

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