Pep Guardiola has described Gerard Pique as “a player for the big games” following the announcement of his imminent retirement.
The 35-year-old Spanish centre-back is set to hang up his boots after turning out for boyhood club Barcelona in their La Liga meeting with Almeria on November 5. It will be the 769th and final professional appearance throughout an illustrious playing career which has seen him lift nine domestic league titles, three European Cups, a European Championship and a World Cup title.
Culers, us he de dir una cosa. pic.twitter.com/k3V919pm1T
— Gerard Piqué (@3gerardpique) November 3, 2022
Alongside his 102 international caps representing Spain, he’s played 23 games during a brief stint at Manchester United, worn Real Zaragoza’s jersey on 28 occasions and to date turned out 615 times for Barça where he’s hinted at taking up a role after playing.
“Football has given me everything,” he said in a statement. “Barcelona has given me everything. You, culers, have given me everything. And now that [this] kid’s dreams have come true, I want to tell you that I’ve decided that now is the time to bring this journey to its end. I’ve always said that there would not be any other team after Barca and that’s how it will be.
“This Saturday’s game will be my last at Camp Nou,” he said. “I will become a regular fan. I will support the team. I will pass my love for Barcelona to my children. And you know me – sooner or later, I’ll be back.”
Gerard Piqué for Barcelona:
🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆 La Liga
🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆 Copa del Rey
🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆Supercopa de España
🏆🏆🏆 Champions League
🏆🏆🏆 UEFA Super Cup
🏆🏆🏆 Club World Cup
One of the all time greats. pic.twitter.com/qVkbBvNs6X
— Squawka (@Squawka) November 3, 2022
Of those outings for Barça no fewer than 30% have been under Guardiola’s leadership. Pique, who left for United as a teenager, was among the first signings after Guardiola was appointed first-team coach in 2008 and the current City boss only has positive things to say about his former pupil.
“He had an incredible career in Barcelona,” he told reporters. “I wish him personally all the best, for him and his family. I know his mum and dad. He’s an incredible human being, huge personality.
“A player for the big games, someone who never missed one or didn’t perform to the high levels. In the top, top teams, all the clubs need this type of player.
“He won everything, with Barcelona and the Spanish national team. The time [to retire] arrives for everyone but his future will be bright because he’s a smart guy.
“It was an honour for me to be his manager, we spent an incredible four years together.”