Real Madrid departure was best decision of career - Ezequiel Garay

Valencia defender Ezequiel Garay has said choosing to leave Real Madrid in 2011 was the "best decision of my career."

Garay, who joined Madrid for €10 million from Racing Santander in 2008, won a Copa del Rey medal in 2011 but did not secure a regular spot in the side.

The Argentina international centre-back left for Benfica in a €5.5m deal in which Real got 50 percent of any subsequent fee, and told El Desmarque his decision had been vindicated.

"I respect Real Madrid a lot as an institution, but the best decision of my career was to leave the club, as what a player wants to do is play games and I was not playing," Garay said.

"I am not sorry about it -- you just have to see the three-and-a-half years I experienced after Madrid at Benfica, which were spectacular."

Madrid have taken a case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, claiming they were hard done by in Garay's move from Benfica to Zenit Saint Petersburg in summer 2014.

That deal was done for a fee of €6m and came after reports that some of Europe's top clubs had been willing to pay significantly more for the player, represented by Portuguese super-agent Jorge Mendes.

Garay's former agent Ricardo Schlieper recently alleged that Bayern Munich had offered €20m, but that the player was not made aware of the bid.

But he said he had been happy with the move to Zenit, adding: "That choice also went very well for me. I believe every step I have taken in my career, they have all gone well."

The player, who joined Valencia this summer, said: "There was talk of teams like United, Chelsea and Bayern, but I had been three-and-a-half years at Benfica and I wanted everyone at the club to be as happy with the transfer as I was.

"So it was my decision to go to Russia. The first year spectacular -- we won the league for the first time in many years and the following year the league title and the Supercup, so I won trophies there too."