It was a very emotional afternoon at Camp Nou on Sunday, as former FC Barcelona captain Lionel Messi formally said goodbye to the club, saying he had been a part of it for 21 years. He broke down in tears at the end of his speech, which was greeted with a long standing ovation.
After the club confirmed on Thursday that Argentina would no longer be able to continue at the club, he announced that he would hold a press conference on Sunday afternoon. Often silent and sometimes secretive, Messi shared his thoughts on stage about what happened last year.
The ceremony was attended by Macy’s wife and children, club executives, manager Ronald Koeman and the entire first team squad. Also present were club legends and former Barcelona teammates Carlos Pewell and Xavi Hernandez.
“It’s the most difficult moment of my sports career,” he said. “I stopped him when he told me. It was like a jug of cold water. I’ve had hard and difficult moments, but this … I’m so sad, I didn’t expect it.” He confirmed that he wanted to live up to what President Juan Laporta had previously claimed.
He added: “I’ve always been in the front. I had a 50% pay cut with the club.
Messi then denied claims that the club had asked for more sacrifices, which led to the breakdown of negotiations. “Last year I decided to leave, but it wasn’t. And no one asked me anything else. It wasn’t possible. It was all agreed, but not because of the La Liga issue. There is a huge debt and do not want to go into debt more than that.
He said he did not expect to say goodbye in this way, admitting that he was hoping that when it came time to say goodbye, it would be in a crowded Camp Nine. He lamented the fact that he had not been able to see his fans for a year and a half and regretted not personally thanking them.
Messi then posed for all 35 trophies he had won with the club in 21 years and 17 seasons in the top flight.