Iniesta leaves Barcelona, says he will never play against club

Andres Iniesta turning emotional during a press conference where he announced his decision to leave

"It's a very hard day for me, to be here saying goodbye when I've spent my whole life here at Barcelona", he said. "My time here ends this season". I would not feel good not being able to give my best for this club.

The Spaniard has appeared 669 times for Barcelona over the course of 16 seasons with the first team, and has won 31 trophies with the side including four Champions League titles and eight La Liga's.

"This press conference is to make public the decision that this season will be the last season here".

"The club has placed its confidence", he said.

"I know what it means to play here year after year and the demands in every sense of the word".

Regarding his future, Iniesta said, "There are still things to work out, different things".

While Iniesta's departure will signal the end of what's been a truly remarkable relationship between one of the world's biggest football clubs and one of it's finest players, we'll always have his highlights in the Blaugrana uniform to look back on. He has enjoyed a glittering career for club and country, and said today: "This is my last season here".

Messi was conspicuous by his absence from the press conference a day ago when Iniesta announced his exit. The club said that they had personal commitments they could not break.

For many years, he formed a domineering midfield partnership for Barcelona and Spain with Xavi Hernandez and the pair were among the three finalists for the 2010 Ballon d'Or, which was won by teammate Lionel Messi.

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"Barcelona thanks you, I thank you and football lovers are grateful for everything you've done!" The team leads Atletico Madrid by 11 points with five games left.

If selected, and he will be, Iniesta will play for Spain in Russian Federation.

Former Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola also had his say on the midfielder. And even though he is opting out of that deal, club president Josep Bartomeu said that there were no hard feelings.

That includes 100 in Europe, a milestone they reached earlier this month in the second-leg to AS Roma; becoming the first pair of teammates to register such a feat.

The loss of Iniesta is a blow to the entire Spanish league.

"I need to thank him because he helped me to understand the game better - just watching him, what he does on the football pitch".

"Hero? No way", he told El Pais on how his life changed after the goal against the Netherlands in Johannesburg that clinched the 2010 World Cup for Spain.

The Spain worldwide will end his career with another league title.

Ask any Barcelona fan what their favorite goal is and more than likely Iniesta's dramatic stoppage-time strike that stunned Chelsea in the 2009 Champions League will be mentioned. He will bid his final farewell at home on May 20 against Real Sociedad. For me, Barca is the best club in the world - this club has given me everything.

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