The 34-year-old was in tears before he could even begin speaking at the event, proving just how much his time with the club has meant to him.
When he finally composed himself, Messi confirmed that his departure from the La Liga giants was not by choice.
“This is really difficult for me after so many years, being here my entire life. I’m not ready for this,” he explained, per The Mirror.
The Blaugrana are currently in the midst of a financial crisis, meaning that they cannot register any newly contracted players to represent them under La Liga regulations.
Ultimately, these administrative woes denied Messi the opportunity to sign a fresh deal with the club after his previous contract expired at the end of June, leaving both sides with no alternative but to part ways.
“My new contract was done. All done. I wanted to stay and when I came back from holidays, it was done. … At the last minute with everything with La Liga, it couldn’t happen,” lamented Messi.
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner is now a free agent, although it is clear that his heart still remains in Catalonia.
“After 13 years I am leaving with my wife, with my three Catalan kids. This is our home, and one day we will be back, I have promised my children that.
“The truth is we’re leaving. I never imagined having to say goodbye because I never thought of it. And I never thought of it this way.
Messi, who scored 672 goals in 778 games during his time at Barca, was then treated to a standing ovation by all in attendance, which lasted a full two minutes.
The club legend also expressed his deep regret at the fact that he had not been able to share his final moments at the Camp Nou with his adoring supporters.
“If I’d imagined leaving, I’d imagine it with the Camp Nou full of people and saying goodbye properly. But it was not to be,” he stated with clear disappointment in his voice.
However, following the press conference, a crowd of fortunate Barcelona fans were able to show their appreciation for Messi as he drove away from the stadium.
A video from Twitter user @ReshadRahman_ has gone viral showing supporters serenading their hero by chanting “Messi, Messi” as he departed, with many running alongside his vehicle in the hope of catching a final glimpse of the great man.
The emotionally charged moments can be seen here…
As gutted as Barcelona fans are to lose Messi, the player himself seems just as shaken by having to part ways with them too.
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