'I was born here and I will die here' - Emotional Pique promises Barca fans he will be back despite retirement

By Sports Desk November 05, 2022

Gerard Pique insisted it is "not farewell" after playing his final game for Barcelona at Camp Nou before retirement.

Pique was substituted to a standing ovation in the 84th minute of Barca's 2-0 win against Almeria on Saturday after second-half goals from Ousmane Dembele and Frenkie de Jong had set the Blaugrana on their way to an 11th win in their last 12 LaLiga games.

The 35-year-old announced the imminent end to his playing career earlier in the week, with the club agreeing to mutually terminate his contract prior to the start of the World Cup in Qatar later this month.

It is not yet clear whether Pique will play any part in Barca's final game before then, away to Osasuna on Tuesday, but it seems unlikely given his emotional departure against Almeria in which he hugged each of his team-mates.

Addressing the fans after the game with a microphone in hand, a tearful Pique said: "To want is to let go. There is so much love and passion between Barca and me.

"It was time to leave... [but] I am convinced that in the future I'll be here again. I already left and came back.

"This is not a farewell. I have been a member since I was born here, and I will die here."

The Barca players adorned special shirts before the game with "Sempr3" emblazoned on the front and Pique's name and number on the back, with the word 'sempre' meaning 'always' in Spanish, and Pique's number three replacing the 'e'.

Sergio Busquets also paid tribute to his team-mate with whom he has played at Barca since 2008 after the game, saying: "He leaves and incredible legacy. Playing for Barcelona means more to him than it does to anyone and we are going to miss him."

Related items

  • CF Montreal v Toronto FC: Herdman promises changes for Canadian 'six-pointer' CF Montreal v Toronto FC: Herdman promises changes for Canadian 'six-pointer'

    John Herdman has pledged to work on Toronto FC's shortcomings ahead of Saturday's derby versus CF Montreal, which he has described as a "six-pointer".

    Toronto ended a miserable 10-game winless run by beating the Philadelphia Union 2-1 last weekend but were then brought crashing back to earth in midweek.

    An Inter Miami team without Lionel Messi or Sergio Busquets, and with Luis Suarez limited to a substitute role, beat the Reds 3-1 to leave them eighth in the Eastern Conference.

    Speaking ahead of Saturday's trip to Quebec, Herdman said getting on the right side of the fine margins must be their focus, saying: "We'll fix some things. 

    "We'll fix our set-pieces and move forward. We've got to look, mentally, at how we stay stronger, collectively, tactically how we adjust to manage these tougher periods. 

    "We will own this together and next task is on to Montreal. We've got two days to get ready for Montreal. Massive game. Six-pointer. We'll get after it.

    Winger Derrick Etienne Jr., meanwhile, thinks the match comes at an ideal time.

    "It comes at the right time," he said. "We want to get back to winning ways and I don't think there is any better way than getting a win in the derby."

    Montreal are level on points with Toronto but are on the rise after a 1-0 win over Atlanta United and Wednesday's 2-2 draw with the New York Red Bulls, coming from behind twice in the latter game.

    Mathieu Choiniere put through his own net in midweek but has impressed this season amid speculation he could leave the club, and boss Laurent Courtois has moved to highlight his contribution.

    "He wants to give everything for his club, and I need Mathieu, not only for his versatility but also for the mentality and identity we want to have here," Courtois said. 

    "Now the player wants to get something to feel more valued, and at the end of the day we're all the same right? You just want to be valued for what you give, and he gives a lot."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    CF Montreal – Josef Martinez

    Martinez scored both of Montreal's goals off the bench on Wednesday, his 22nd multi-goal MLS match and his second as a substitute. 

    The striker's 22 multi-goal games are tied for third most in league history.

    Toronto FC – Federico Bernardeschi 

    Bernardeschi has scored six goals in five matches against Montreal, including a hat-trick in the rivals' last meeting. 

    Only Brian White (seven versus St. Louis City) has scored more goals against a single opponent in MLS since Bernardeschi joined the league in July 2022.

    MATCH PREDICTION – CF MONTREAL WIN

    Montreal have won five straight home matches against Toronto, the longest home winning streak by either team against the other in the history of the series (54 matches).

    They twice came from behind against the Red Bulls on Wednesday and have now lost just two of their last 11 matches (three wins, six draws). With home advantage on their side, they will be favourites.

    Indeed, Toronto are winless in their last eight away games (two draws, six losses), including losing their last five road matches in a row. 

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY 

    CF Montreal – 56.1%

    Toronto FC – 21.2%

    Draw – 22.7%

  • Morata joins Milan on four-year deal Morata joins Milan on four-year deal

    Milan have completed the signing of Spain captain Alvaro Morata from Atletico Madrid.

    The striker, who will wear the number seven shirt with the Rossoneri, has put pen to paper on a four-year deal at San Siro, with the option of an additional year.

    Morata is fresh from leading Spain to their record-breaking fourth European Championship triumph at Euro 2024, following a 2-1 victory over England in the final.

    The 31-year-old becomes Paulo Fonseca's first major signing since replacing Stefano Pioli in the Milan dugout.

    This will be Morata's second spell in Italy, having scored 59 goals in 185 appearances across two separate stints with Juventus, where he won successive Serie A titles in 2015 and 2016.

    He could make his debut when Milan host Torino in their opening match of the 2024-25 season on August 17.

  • Ten Hag concedes Man Utd have 'less depth' than Premier League rivals Ten Hag concedes Man Utd have 'less depth' than Premier League rivals

    Erik ten Hag feels Manchester United have less strength in depth compared "with other top clubs in the Premier League".

    The Dutchman's injury-hit side finished eighth in the Premier League last season; their lowest final position in the competition.

    However, the Red Devils did manage to secure European football for the 2024-25 campaign after beating rivals Manchester City 2-1 in the FA Cup final.

    Ten Hag was heavily linked with a departure from Old Trafford, but recently extended his stay with the club until 2026, and he acknowledges United are still a work in progress.

    "Last season, we constantly had injuries to players in the same positions, all at the back. At one point, we had almost no defenders available," he told Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad.

    "When we started here, United hadn't won a trophy for six years, and it really wasn't because they didn't have good managers here.

    "It does say something about the composition and quality of the player group. I knew that when I started, of course, but they were players with long-term contracts.

    "We were and still are in that process [of building]. If you compare our squad with other top clubs in the Premier League, we certainly have a bit less in terms of depth. That is exactly why we found it so difficult to deal with those injuries."

    Ten Hag also reflected on that FA Cup final against City, a game which was widely expected to spell the end for the Dutchman had United lost.

    But the 54-year-old is not concerned by his job security.

    "Let's face it: you lose too many matches, it just takes strength to keep the team focused and motivated every time," he added. "The players are disappointed, the people around you are disappointed.

    "There was so much going on at that stage, but I still firmly believed that we could win that final. The most important thing of all was to convey that belief to my team. I had to be careful that the entire environment did not become negative in advance.

    "If United's management find someone tomorrow who they think is better, then I'll go. It's that simple. Those are the mechanisms in football that you have to respect. At a club like this, it is crystal clear: if you don't win, you have a problem."

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.