Sergio Ramos broke down in tears, saying leaving Real Madrid was one of the most difficult moments of his life as he bid farewell on Thursday after 16 years at the club.
The defender played 671 games for Real Madrid and will be remembered as one of the club’s greatest ever players, having won five La Liga titles and four Champions Leagues.
The 35-year-old, who struggled for fitness and form last season, was unable to agree an extension to his contract and will become a free agent on July 1.
Ramos and Real Madrid president Florentino Perez delivered short speeches in a presentation room at the club’s training ground, with Ramos’ family in the audience.
“The moment has come, one of the most difficult in my life, because you are never ready to leave Real Madrid,” Ramos said.
“The fans supported me in the good moments and the bad. I would have liked to say goodbye in the stadium.
“A wonderful stage is closing, one that has been unique in my life, but an exciting new chapter begins and I go into it with a lot of desire to show my quality for many years to come.”
Ramos said he wants to “add more titles” to his record and added “this is not a goodbye but a see you later because sooner or later I will return to Real Madrid”.
Perez said it was “not an easy day”, remembering how he signed Ramos, aged 19, from Sevilla for 27 million euros in 2005.
“He arrived wanting to take on the world,” said Perez. “You are undoubtedly one of legends of Real Madrid. You have grown as a player here and been our iconic captain for years.”