To say, right now, that Gerard Piqué has been an exceptional and, in many respects, a unique footballer is surely an understatement for all that he has meant to the history of Futbol Club Barcelona. The surprising announcement of his retirement, bringing forward the end of a sporting career that for logical reasons would have had its ups and downs, when he is a few months from his 36th birthday next February, allows him to make a triumphal exit. He will play his last game at Camp Nou this Saturday against Almería and will hang up his boots this weekend, unless his coach uses him in next Tuesday's game against Osasuna at El Sadar in Pamplona. And thus, Piqué will become part of the legend of the club on his own merits and will accompany, among others, his inseparable Carles Puyol, with whom he formed an unrepeatable defence tandem in the best Barça in history, the one we enjoyed almost without realizing it for just a few years, even naively thinking that it would never end, a Barça that today we can only explain to those who didn't see it and that exists in memory, or worn-out video tapes and DVDs.
His exceptional trophy record sums it all up: 3 Champions Leagues, 3 Club World Cups, 8 Spanish Leagues, 7 Copas del Rey, 6 Spanish Super Cups and 3 European Super Cups in 13 seasons, since the current one cannot be counted as that, and to all of this we must add having been world champion and European champion with the Spanish national team. In total, 32 top-level trophies, after playing more than 600 official matches in the Barça shirt, only behind Leo Messi, Xavi, Iniesta and Sergio Busquets. Piqué has always been a sportsman with a winning mentality, a fanatical culer and, without a doubt, a catalanista. There are many people who have never forgiven him these three qualities, especially the last two. He has embodied values that are often difficult to find in footballers who are less passionate and committed, dependent only on their little world and far from the country to which they belong. His positioning in favour of Catalonia's right to decide, participation in some of the mass demonstrations on September 11th and in the vote for the independence referendum on October 1st, 2017 served to embody, together with Pep Guardiola and Xavi Hernández, a public commitment to the political demands of the majority of Catalan society.
There is an announcement that one day he will return in the farewell video he made that has been posted on social media and, obviously, all eyes are on the fact that in the future his destiny will not be, as in other cases, the football coach's bench at the Barcelona club, following the line of, for example, Johan Cruyff, Pep Guardiola, Ronald Koeman and Xavi Hernández; but the presidency of the organization, a position that has not been within the reach of any player in its 123-year history. Surely, this future goal, not at all undisguised by Piqué in recent years, has been decisive in the way his exit from the team's first team at this time has been managed. As well as the fact that he has excused the club for sums of money that it owes him from these financially complicated years after the disastrous management of Josep Maria Bartomeu that left the organization one step away from bankruptcy.
It has not been the sporting facet of Piqué that has most exposed him to controversy - something which, in any case, he has never shied away from. His entrepreneurial side, also successful, often discussed and sometimes little understood, has given him a very unusual profile. His marriage to the Colombian singer Shakira and their recent break-up have also made him an excessive protagonist of the gossip pages of the newspapers, something that has certainly not helped him at this end of his career. Because elite sport leaves little time for things other than exclusive dedication, and Piqué, in this aspect, has combined several activities. Perhaps he could have done without the matches played with the team this season, which was becoming particularly long and tiresome for him. He was no longer that pillar of the defence of other times, but a fragile and physically challenged footballer. For this reason, his retirement announcement was also a success. And it is good that this path is as short as possible and that on Saturday he can be farewelled as he deserves for everything he has given to the club and to Catalonia.