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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 10 December 2018

Barcelona will always be in my heart says departing midfielder Andres Iniesta

Emotional farewell for the midfielder in his final game for the Primera Liga champions as they defeat Real Sociedad 1-0.

Barcelona players throw Andres Iniesta, centre, up in the air following his final game for the club. Alberto Estevez / EPA
Barcelona players throw Andres Iniesta, centre, up in the air following his final game for the club. Alberto Estevez / EPA

Andres Iniesta praised the club and fans as he bid an emotional farewell to Barcelona after 22 years at Camp Nou.

Primera Liga champions Barca claimed a 1-0 win over Real Sociedad thanks to a goal from Philippe Coutinho and it was a fitting finale for the 34-year-old, who lifted the trophy for a ninth time.

Addressing supporters on the pitch after the final whistle, Iniesta said he "leaves as a man", having spent so long playing for the Catalan giants.

"I will move on and carry you all in my heart forever," he said in quotes published on Marca.

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"It's been a wonderful 22 years, full of pride, and it's been a pleasure to represent this club.

"I thank you for all the love and respect that you've given me since I arrived as a child, I now leave as a man."

Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde felt it was only right to give the midfielder the send-off he deserved by replacing him late in the game with Paco Alcacer.

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"We wanted to compete and win, but today was Andres' day and the crowd made it special," Valverde told Barca TV.

"I wanted to change things at the end of the game, to coincide with Leo (Messi) on the field. It was the right moment.

"These types of players will be talked about long into the future.

"They are unrepeatable, historical players that everyone will remember."