Atletico Madrid captain Diego Godin will leave the club after nine years when his contract expires in June, the Uruguayan defender announced Tuesday at a press conference in which he tried several times to hold back tears.
The 33-year-old, who has played 387 games for Atletico since coming from Villarreal in 2010, scored 27 goals for the mattress club, to which he gave the first Spanish league title in 18 years with a header in a 1-1 draw against Barcelona in 2014.
Godín did not say where his career will continue, but several Spanish media have reported that he will sign for Inter Milan.
Godin’s departure will leave another hole in Atletico’s defence as French international Lucas Hernandez sealed his move to Bayern Munich at the end of the season after the German team paid their €80m cancellation clause.
“I’m nervous, more than in a game. I want to thank everyone for being here. I needed everyone here, they are my last days with Atlético” said an emotional Godín.
“They educated me with the best values and they are the ones I have tried to transmit, of humility, sacrifice, work and above all respect for the team-mate, the rival and the profession and all that surrounds this sport”, he added.
Atletico President Enrique Cerezo added: “It’s a very special day for Atletico. We got together the big family (of the club) not only to say goodbye to a legend, but to thank you from the bottom of our hearts. You’ve given everything by wearing this shirt.
“We’re all very proud of you for the way you defended the shield. Nobody defines better than you the courage and heart that represents Atletico,” added the leader.
In addition to the league title, Godin won two European League titles, a King’s Cup, a Spanish Super Cup and three European Super Cups with Atlético, as well as reaching the Champions League finals in 2014 and 2016, both of which he lost to Real Madrid.
Godin also said he rejected offers from other clubs to leave Atletico last year.
“It is life, there are changes, there are always hard changes and make you mature, grow and see life from another perspective. I don’t regret anything, I’d like to play until I’m 40 but it’s impossible. As another fan, I want to remember everything I’ve experienced and continue supporting the team wherever it is,” added the Uruguayan.