Madrid, Jun 6 (EFE).- Legendary striker Karim Benzema bid farewell to Real Madrid FC after a 14-year stint making him the player to have won the most titles in the club’s history.
At a special ceremony at Real Madrid City, club president Florentino Pérez told the player: “Dear Karim, 14 years ago, you joined Real Madrid and you have become one of the best players of all time.”
“You arrived being almost a child and today you are becoming one of our great legends and one of the best players of all time,” Perez added.
During the moving presentation Benzema thanked his teammates and the club adding that it was “difficult to speak” due to a flurry of emotions.
The player recalled how Perez visited his parent’s home when he was just 21 years old.
“When I saw him I said, he is the man who has signed Zizou, Ronaldo and now he wants me in his team. I thank you very much for that,” the soccer player added.
“I will never forget Real Madrid, it is impossible, it is the best club in the world and in history,” he continued. “Today it is the time to leave and to experience something else, but the most important thing for me is what I have achieved here.”
In his brief speech, Benzema said he had fulfilled his childhood dreams and echoed the phrase he said on the first day of his signing at the club when he could barely speak Spanish: “1,2, 3, Hala Madrid!”
“It’s a sad day, because I’m going to leave this club and that hurts me. I had a dream in my head, I signed with Madrid and I wanted to end (my career) at Madrid, but life sometimes gives you another chance,” the 35-year-old French striker added.
The player went on to thank coach Carlo Ancelotti, and fellow players Thibaut Courtois, Luka Modric, Lucas Vázquez and Nacho Fernández, as well as former players like Roberto Carlos, Raúl González and Álvaro Arbeloa.
“Thanks to the coach, who has always boosted my confidence. I will never forget that,” he added.
In the final part of his speech, Benzema briefly explained the reasons for his unexpected goodbye.
The former France international has signed a contract with the Saudi Arabian club Al-Ittihad.
Benzema won 25 titles with Real Madrid (a record at the club), played 648 games and scored 354 goals. EFE