Departing Barcelona striker Lionel Messi admitted he thought he 'was going to stay at home' before his contract talks with the club fell through.
Messi began the press conference by receiving a round of applause, taking a handkerchief from his wife to apparently wipe away tears.
Gerard Pique was in attendance to watch his colleague announce his departure, with the press also ready for the end of his speech.
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A noticeably emotional Messi struggled to take to the podium before making a short speech, where he gave thanks to everyone at the club over the course of his career.
MESSI'S GOODBYE SPEECH
“In recent days I’ve given lots of thought to what I can say and the truth is that I can’t think of anything.
“This is really difficult for me after so many years, being here my entire life, I’m not ready for this and honestly last year with all the nonsense with the burofax, I thought I was convinced I knew what I wanted to say. This year my family was convinced I was going to stay at home, that’s what we all wanted more than anything.
“Today, I have to say goodbye to all of this. I’ve been here since I was 13, after 21 years I’m leaving with my wife, with my three little Catalan-Argentiine kids. I can’t say in a few years we won't come back because this is my home.
“I’m really grateful for everything, for my teammates, my former teammates, everyone who's been by my side. There’s so many people, some of us only met a few times. This club - I will be so humble, have so much respect. I want to say to everyone at this house that, for the luck I’ve had, to live so many experiences at this club, so many beautiful things, some bad things. All of this helped me to grow, helped me to improve, make me the person I am today.
"I gave everything for this club, for this shirt. From the first day I arrived until the very last. The truth is I’m leaving. I'm so grateful for the care that people have shown me. I’d love to have gone in a different way. I never imagined it this way. Especially, I imagined it with people in the [crowd], the last cheers.
"We’ve not been able to play with fans this year because of the pandemic. It’s been difficult to not hear them, without them cheering my name. It’s hard to leave without seeing the fans. If I could have imagined, it would have been with the Camp Nou full and being able to say goodbye properly.
"I hope that I could come back and be part of this club in any way and help this club be the best and be the best in the world. Honestly I’m forgetting so many things I wanted to say but that’s all I can say right now. The words just won’t come to me. The best thing is to answer some questions, and thank you to everyone."
Messi then opened the floor to questions to the press, where he addressed rumours and speculation over the breakdown of talks, as well as some of his career highlights.
Asked about the emotions he was experiencing as he said goodbye, he said: "This is the most difficult moment of my career, no doubt. I’ve had many difficult, hard moments, many defeats, but then you could return to train and get revenge. Now I cannot return, my time at this club is over. So it is the most difficult moment, yes.
“I feel very sad as I have to leave this club, a club I love, in a moment I did not expect. I never lie, I have always been up front, told the truth. Last year I wanted to leave, this year no, that’s why I’m sad.
“Barca are biggest club in the world, a marvellous squad. Players come and go, its true, as Laporta said the club is bigger than any individual. The fans will get used to it, as they always do. They have very good players, and things will work out in the end.”
The Argentine international did not admit to any rancur with La Liga president, Javier Tebas, saying: "I only know it is not possible for La Liga, for the club’s debts, that the club cannot go further in debt. I have nothing to say about Tebas, just met him a few times, and it was all friendly. I have no problem with Tebas, me.
“These have been a sad few days, as it all sinks in. When I get home now, it will be even worse. But I need to be close to my family, those I love, and keep playing football, what I most love to do. Once I start, all this will start to pass.”
What was your favourite moment in a Barcelona shirt?
"The time when I made my debut, that was my dream come true and everything that came later was amazing. I will always remember that moment where everything started."
Why did you have to leave Barcelona?
"What's clear is I did everything possible, and they (Barca) couldn't do it because of La Liga.
"A lot of things have been said about me, but on my behalf we did everything I could because I wanted to stay. Last year I didn't want to stay and I said it. This year I did and I couldn't.
This is what [club president Joan] Laporta said, up to the last minute, then suddenly with the league it could not happen.
Do you have a deal with PSG?
"It is a possibility".
"I've had nothing confirmed with anyone. When the press release went out I had a lot of calls and we are talking about a lot of things."
How did you feel when you were told you would have to leave?
"It was like my blood ran cold, I was really sad, it was really difficult right up to now. I'm still trying to process it all.
"When I got home I will still feel bad, it will be even worse."
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