Following his announcement, Gerard Pique will play his final match at the Camp Nou on Saturday when Barcelona hosts Almeria.
The 35-year-old centre back announced on Thursday night in an emotional video that he would be abruptly hanging up his boots to end his illustrious career.
Pique was listed on Spain’s provisional 55-man squad list for the World Cup in Qatar this month, making his retirement all the more surprising. Due to his waning abilities, Pique had lost his spot as a regular starter for club and country in recent seasons.
The Catalan-born defender, formerly of Manchester United, had a distinguished 18-year playing career during which he won a staggering 35 trophies and worked with some of the game’s greatest ever managers.
Pique also won a total of nine league titles in England and Spain, four Champions Leagues, a World Cup and a European Championship across almost 800 senior appearances.
Regarded as one of the best centre-backs of his generation, Pique will wave goodbye to his beloved Barcelona fans this weekend – but he assures them that he’ll be back.
“I have always said that after Barca there would be no other team, and so it will be. This Saturday will be my last game at the Camp Nou,” the veteran, who separated from pop star Shakira in June, explained in his two-minute 15-second farewell video.
“A lot of people have been talking about me for weeks, months. So far I haven’t said anything, but now I’ll be the one to talk about me. I’ve always been from Barcelona, I was born into a very soccer family. From a very young age I didn’t want to be a soccer player, I wanted to be a Barcelona player.
“Lately, I have thought a lot about that boy, what the little Gerard would have thought if he had been told that he would fulfill all his dreams, that he would reach the first team of Barcelona, he would be champion of Europe, and of the world. That he would play with the best in history, that he would be one of the captains, that he would make friends forever.
“It’s been 25 years since I joined Barcelona, I left and came back. Football has given me everything. Barca has given me everything. You, cules, have given me everything. And now that that child’s dreams have been fulfilled, I have decided that it is time to close the circle…
“I will become one more cule, I will encourage the team and transmit the love for the team to my children, just as my family did with me. And you know me, sooner or later, I’ll be back. See you at the Camp Nou. Visca el Barca, always.”
Ex-Barcelona striker Gary Lineker offered his tribute to Pique’s career by tweeting: “Wishing Gerrard Pique the very best of luck in his retirement. One of the giants of our beautiful game. A simply wonderful footballer who won it all. He’ll be missed.”