It is never easy to say goodbye, especially if the place being vacated is considered as home. Last weekend, some favourite sons and daughters bid farewell to teams that are No.1 in their hearts.
Andres Iniesta: Barcelona
Renowned Spanish football writer, Guillem Balague, wrote these parting words on Twitter on Iniesta: "For being our best player ever and representing a brand of football that made me fall in love with the game again. For showing respect at all times. For THE goal. For always giving me more time than what I asked for. For all that and more, gracias."
I witnessed first hand, the wizardry of Iniesta at the 2010 World Cup and witnessed The goal that took Spain to the pinnacle of world football. I saw that goal against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in 2009 but more importantly, I saw how he respected opponents and officials even though he was often the victim of crude tackles.
He was taken off at the 81st minute against Real Sociedad on Sunday to stop the clock at 43,617 minutes since he made his debut in 2003. Afterward, he addressed the fans and said, "Today is a difficult day but it's been 22 marvelous years. It's been a pride and a pleasure to defend and represent this badge, for me, the best in the world." Iniesta seems to want to continue his career elsewhere but if he doesn't - here is saying 'Adios Maestro'.
Fernando Torres: Atletico Madrid
In his last match for Atletico Madrid, it was fitting that Fernando 'El Nino' Torres scored his team's last two goals in the 2017/18 La Liga season. He stopped his Atletico clock at 20, 617 minutes over two spells and 103 goals. He won all football trophies with Spain and continental honours with Chelsea and Atletico. But he said in his farewell speech that the UEFA Europa League won last Wednesday in Lyon was the best he had ever won. "Thanks for so much and sorry for [giving] so little. This is the best thing I've won, without doubt." Torres won four major club competitions and just the one with Atletico - the one he snagged last Wednesday, which was a terrific timing for a player, who will always have a special place in the heart of Los Rojiblancos' fans.
Xabi Prieto: Real Sociedad
Prieto played his last match for his beloved club on the same day Iniesta was bowing out of the game at the Nou Camp. The 34-year-old spent his entire footballing career at Estadio Municipal de Anoeta and stopped the clock at 36, 233 minutes. Though he never achieved the honour of turning out for Spain, he was widely acknowledged as a cerebral and physically imposing midfielder. He scored 81 goals in 580 club appearances. In his honour, the club replaced the club's crest with his face in the match against Leganes last weekend. His last goal for the club was against Levante on February 18.
Eniola Aluko: Chelsea Ladies
Aluko inspired Chelsea Ladies team to go through the season unbeaten, whilst also lifting the FA Cup. But after eight seasons, and 68 goals, Aluko is leaving the Londoners.
"It's with a heavy heart I confirm I'll be leaving Chelsea," she said. "I could not dream of a better ending. To my team-mates who I adore, the club and fans - thank you." Chelsea Ladies came from a two goals deficit to defeat Liverpool and finish the WSL season unbeaten. Writing on Twitter afterward, Aluko said, "That's a wrap!! *Amazing comeback *Delighted to score 100th goal for the team. Wow. *Unbeaten in the league *Invincible *Double, Double What an incredible week and incredible end @clrafferty1 @chapmans17 THAT'S WHY WE ARE CHAMPIONS."
Chelsea on their website described the England international as "one of the greats in our Ladies team's history," because her "attacking flair and pace has been a feature of the Blues' forward play either centrally or out wide."