Barcelona's Gerard Pique vows to return after tearful Camp Nou farewell

Emotional Gerard Pique says goodbye to Barcelona (2:11)

Gerard Pique comes off to standing ovation from the Camp Nou as he leaves the field for the final time as a Barcelona player. (2:11)

Gerard Pique broke down in tears as he gave an emotional speech after playing his final game at Camp Nou for Barcelona in Saturday's 2-0 win over Almeria.

Pique, 35, promised he would be back at the club in some capacity in the future but said that sometimes loving something so much means you have to know when to let go.

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The defender captained Barca on his 616th appearance for the club against Almeria -- playing 83 minutes before being substituted to a standing ovation -- and could make one more before retirement when Xavi Hernandez's side travel to Osasuna on Tuesday before LaLiga breaks for the World Cup.

"In life, as you grow older, sometimes to love is to let go," said Pique, before he started to cry as he spoke in the middle of the Camp Nou pitch after performing a lap of honour.

"A relationship of so much love, so much passion, I think it is the moment to give ourselves some space. That is why I think it is the right moment to go, because I love this club.

"I am convinced that I will be back in the future. This is not a goodbye, I left when I was 17 [for Manchester United] and I came back. My grandad made me a member when I was born. I was born here and I will die here."

A season-high crowd of 92,605 attended the game, Barca's highest attendance since the 2019 Clasico (93,426), to say goodbye to Pique, who has won 30 trophies during 14 years with the first team.

The majority of his touches were cheered throughout the game, his name was chanted at regular intervals and supporters even encouraged him to take a first-half penalty, which was missed by Robert Lewandowski.

"I had not dreamed of this ending because I had never thought about leaving," Pique later told DAZN of the amazing treatment he received from supporters.

"I wasn't thinking about retirement. I was always saying one more year. But things happen and you have to make a decision. I have always been clear with myself. These six months have been really difficult and today has felt like liberation. I was able to say goodbye how I wanted.

"It's a weight off my shoulders. Recent months have not been easy. Always competing, playing and giving everything, but sometimes it comes off and sometimes it doesn't, as is the case for everyone. But I am proud. I leave happy."

After his speech, Pique, who also won a World Cup and European Championship with Spain, shared a moment with his grandad, a former Barca director, in the stands, before playing football on the pitch with his two sons, who had also joined him on the tunnel walkout ahead of the match.

When he announced his retirement on Thursday, Pique had said he would be back, a message he reiterated on Saturday having previously said he would like to be the club's president one day.

"A range of things open up now and I have to organise myself a little," added Pique, who is already the owner of second division side Andorra and who, through his company Kosmos, revamped the Davis Cup tennis competition.

"Now it is time to enjoy my friends and family. After the Osasuna match, I will go on holiday for a few days. I will be back, but this is the right moment to separate [from Barca]."

Barca coach Xavi was delighted to see the send-off Pique, who he previously played alongside, received at Camp Nou.

"Today, everything was great," he said. "The game, Pique's performance... he always stepped up in the big games. The homage he got. He deserved this farewell.

"It was a historic night for Gerard. We wanted to send him off in the best possible way. I have already told him what a legend he is at Barcelona and how grateful we are for all that he has done."

Goals from Ousmane Dembele and Frenkie de Jong sealed the three points in the second half after Lewandowski's penalty miss early on. The win takes Barca two points clear of Real Madrid, who travel to Rayo Vallecano on Monday.

"It was a complete performance," Xavi added. "I think the margin could have been bigger. The score does not reflect the superiority we had in the game, but it's three points to keep us in the fight at the top."