Eric Abidal Leaves Barcelona

Eric Abidal, who despite having a liver transplant in April 2012 came back to play for the Spanish champions earlier this season, will leave Barcelona later in the summer.

The 33-year-old has won two Champions League trophies and four La Liga campaigns during his time at the club, which began in 2007 when he arrived from Lyon. Overall he has claimed 15 major honours at the Nou Camp.

Abidal, who broke down in a news conference confirming the news, stated, “I would have liked to have stayed and played on but the club saw it differently and I have to respect their decision.”

“Football for me is a passion since I was a child,” Abidal said. “I don’t see myself quitting now. I have made all this effort to come back to play football. My health is better now. When my body tells me to stop I will hang up the boots. I’m leaving but I’ll definitely be back. I have played here for six years and it’s been the biggest experience of my life.”

Abidal was joined by club president Sandro Rosell and sports director Andoni Zubizarreta at the conference, and the pair both spoke glowingly of the French international.

Rosell noted, “He has won our hearts because you can never write him off. He has had the strength to overcome all types of difficulties – he has taught us life lessons we will never forget.”

He then added, “We are not saying goodbye, only ‘until we meet again’. When he decides to stop playing football, he can come back here to be the technical director of all of our football academies on a worldwide level.”

Abidal was previously diagnosed with a liver tumour and had to undergo an operation in March 2011, but he still managed to make a triumphant return to help life the Champions League trophy just two months later.

[Image via Natursports/Shutterstock]