Barcelona legend Gerard Pique was given an emotional standing ovation as he made his final Nou Camp appearance in their 2-0 La Liga win over Almeria. He was replaced in the 84th minute and tearfully embraced all his team-mates, boss Xavi and the entire Barca bench.
The 35-year-old will retire after Tuesday’s trip to Osasuna, although it is not certain he will play in that. After the game he gave a speech on the pitch, saying: “I was born here and I will die here.” He added: “When you get older, you realise that sometimes to love is to let go. I’m convinced that I’ll be here again in the future. “I love Barca. That’s why I consider it’s the right moment to go. This is not a goodbye.”
There were several tributes to him on his farewell night at the Nou Camp. Pique, who was named captain, walked on to the pitch with his two sons, as all his team-mates wore shirts with his name and number three on the back. There was a huge banner on the pitch that said ‘Sempr3’ (For3ver) and a video celebrating Pique’s career was played on the big screen to the fans as well.
Barcelona won an early penalty with their fans chanting for Pique to take it. But the Spaniard pointed to Robert Lewandowski, who stepped up and hit the post. Pique, who scored 53 goals for Barcelona, headed a chance over the bar and had another saved by Fernando Martinez.