Real Madrid have paid tribute to departing Avaro Arbeloa who played his last game for the Los Blancos in Sunday’s 3-2 victory over Valencia at the Santiago Bernabéu where a video of his career in images was projected prior to kick-off.
Arbeloa who also had a spell with Premier League giants Liverpool between 2007 and 2009 lived an intense and emotional match day of recognition at the Santiago Bernabéu. After playing the final minutes against Valencia and receiving a warm farewell from the fans, the Los Blancos’ full-back was praised by the club.
Club president Florentino Pérez gave him a replica of the Cibeles fountain and the player responded with a shirt with the following warm dedication:
“For the ‘presi’, you brought me here 15 years ago. Wehen you left, I left with you. In 2009 i came home. i will forever be thankful, with my warmest wishes. Arbeloa.” Perez said as quoted on the club’s official website.
Arbeloa’s name was chanted from the stands and a giant shirt displaying the number 17 was unveiled when he came on to replace Cristiano Ronaldo, while Sergio Ramos handed over the captain’s armband. At the final whistle he was mobbed by his team mates out on the field as the fans gave him a standing ovation.
The Madrid academy product thanked the fans for their support: “It’s all over, it’s been incredible, a dream. Thank so much to everyone. I don’t know how to express my gratitude for so many years. I’ve been proud to wear this shirt every single day.
“Being a part of this team is the best thing that can happen to a footballer. It’s a team with huge expectations, but one in which every second I’ve spent out on the pitch has been the best of my life.
On the title race and the UEFA Champions League final clash against city rivals Atletico Madrid, the defender said: “We’re going to believe until the final moment, just as we did in Lisbon and at other crucial moments. We’ll be there until the end. We’re very much aware we can’t make the same mistake as two years ago when we let the title slip away. If Barcelona don’t slip up, we’ll congratulate them as rightful winners.
“I want to keep playing football for as long as my body allows. I couldn’t wear a shirt other than Real Madrid’s here in Spain”.
Arbeloa developed as a player in Madrid’s academy between 2001 and 2006. He has played 238 times for the first team over the last seven seasons, during which time he has won 1 Champions League, 1 Club World Cup, 1 European Super Cup, 1 La Liga title, 2 Copa Del Rey titles and 1 Spanish Super Cup. With the Spanish national team Arbeloa has won 1 World Cup and 2 European Cups.