Pique announces retirement from soccer

Gerard Pique has announced that he will leave Barcelona after this weekend's LaLiga match, ending one of Spanish football's most distinguished careers.

The 35-year-old former Spain defender has confirmed he will quit the Camp Nou following Saturday's home fixture with Almeria.

"I have always said that after Barca there would be no other team and that is how it will be. This Saturday will be my last game at the Camp Nou," the defender explained in a video posted on Twitter.

"It has been 25 years since I joined Barca. I left and I came back. Football has given me everything, Barca has given me everything.

"I wanted to tell you now is the time to bring this journey to its end. I will become a regular fan, I will support the team and pass my love for Barca to my children.

"You know me, sooner or later I will be back."

Pique has made 533 appearances for Barcelona after returning to the club from Manchester United in 2008, having initially moved from the Camp Nou to Old Trafford in 2004.

He won eight LaLiga titles, seven Copa del Rey crowns and the Champions League three times with Barca among a host of other honours.

The centre back also won the World Cup with Spain in 2010 and European Championship in 2012, making 102 appearances and scoring five times for his country before retiring from international football in 2018.

Considered one of the best at his position at the peak of his career as part of the great Barcelona teams led by Lionel Messi, Pique stood out from other players for his interest in business ventures that he started while still performing on the field.

He successfully overhauled the Davis Cup tennis competition, while also getting into controversial deals with the Spanish federation involving its holding of the Spanish Super Cup competition in Saudi Arabia.

He has even said he would possibly consider a run at becoming the future president of Barcelona at some point.

Pique came up through Barcelona's youth academy, playing along with Messi as a teenager, before he left for United.

He returned to Barcelona under coach Pep Guardiola and immediately blossomed as a skilled defender thanks to his smarts, passing skills and leadership.

With AP