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It was one of the toughest days in the history of Barça. On Sunday, Leo Messi said goodbye to the club which up till now has been his "lifetime club" - indeed, for many of those watching and listening, he has been Barça's lifetime player. But almost overnight, that has changed and in tears, in front of a Camp Nou auditorium full of teammates, family members and friends, the Argentinian player said his final adeu - but adding that Barcelona "is home" for him and his family, and "they'll be back". Below, his speech, simultaneously translated to English by an FC Barcelona interpreter. 

"I wasn't ready"

Messi found himself delivering an emotional goodbye speech quite suddenly - after his expected contract renewal with Barça was announced as impossible by the club last Thursday, with club president Joan Laporta putting the blame on mismanagement by the previous club board, as well as political machinations in the Spanish Liga. And thus it was not surprising that the first minutes of the Argentinian's appearance on the podium consisted only of his tears while those present supported him with applause:  


Then, however, choking the tears, he began to speak. "This is very difficult for me after so many years and all my life here," he began, adding that unlike last year - when the club's disastrous situation led him to demand a transfer - this time "I wasn't ready".

Messi's full speech, in English

But in spite of the suddenness, "now a new story begins", as he explained in an improvised but heartfelt speech:


He repeatedly expressed his "great sadness" at having reached this point of no return. He added that "I wanted to stay here with my family" and that "I never imagined leaving this way."

Messi wanted to say goodbye before a full Camp Nou to receive a final ovation from his thousands of Catalan fans, and indeed, he did not rule out being able to return one day to close this circle. While admitting that the Paris Saint Germain club is a "possible" next destination, he also looked further into the future and expressed that Barcelona is his home: "After being away for a few years, we will return. It is our home and so I promised it to my children." And he added that "I arrived here at the age of 13 and after 21 years I left with my wife and three Catalan-Argentine children".

In the end, however, Messi said his last goodbye in the 1899 Auditorium at Camp Nou. An intensely emotional day, with a lot of tears. But also with a smile because - wherever he goes - he is likely to continue scoring goals, and all football fans - even culers - will continue to enjoy the best player in history. 


Main image: Leo Messi with tears in his eyes during his farewell press conference at the Barça club / GTRES