Sergi Samper said goodbye to Barcelona after 18 years at the club on Tuesday. The midfielder, who will join Japanese side Vissel Kobe, did so in a press conference at the training ground, surrounded by friends and family, but also by Ernesto Valverde and Carles Aleña.
Also present in the name of the club was Xavi Vilajoana, Javier Bordas, Pep Segura, Eric Abidal, Guillermo Amor, Ariedo Braida and Òscar Grau. Barça B coach Garcia Pimienta was also there.
Samper, 24, was emotional at times as he covered a range of subjects.
Farewell: "You're never prepared to say goodbye but the moment deserves it, after 18 years. This is the club of my life, thanks to the push I got from my grandafather from the stands to the pitch. There's not one moment that stands out, there are 18 years. So many experiences... It's tough to choose one. I remember my first day, a trial. We lost 13-1 but I passed the trial and then another 18 years have passed. It's been the experience of a lifetime."
Why go? "What I want is to play and enjoy football. Vissel Kobe are giving me the chance to do that."
Iniesta: "Andres was especially key [in choosing to move to Vissel Kobe]. He called me several times, he explained the project, how happy he is there. He's excited I am going. I also have a good relationship with Gerard [Pique] and he was the person who first told me of [Vissel Kobe's] interest."
Feel valued: "Going to Japan at 24 is not something I'd thought about. But I want to feel valued again and it was an incredible opportunity. It was the moment. It's a risky decision but Iniesta's explained [Vissel Kobe's] way of playing, the coach wants to play football and it's a really technical league. I will enjoy it a lot. It's a decision which has been made in the last week. In four or five days everything was tied up.
Personal test: "I want to test myself, I want to see how far I can go. I back myself. It's tough to be a success here coming from the academy, keeping in mind the level of the first team. They're the best in the world, but I think that's what Barca have done in recent years, working with the academy, that's when things have gone the best."