Iniesta leaves Japan, says he wants to continue playing soccer
Kobe, Japan, May 25 (EFE) .- Spanish soccer player Andres Iniesta announced Thursday that he is leaving Vissel Kobe of the Japanese league, adding he would continue his professional career elsewhere.
“I think we had always imagined I would retire here, it was everyone’s wish,” a tearful Iniesta said at a press conference in Kobe, western Japan, together with team owner Hiroshi Mikitani.
Iniesta said he still wants to “continue playing” and “continue competing,” adding that the decision to leave had been made “by mutual agreement” with the club, after assuming “that the coach’s priorities are different” and having little prominence with his team this season.
The player said coming to Japan “has been one of the best decisions of his life,” adding that he had experienced “very beautiful moments” with the club, but also “other very hard ones” such as last season, in which the team battled to avoid relegation.
Among the positives, he spoke of the 2019 Emperor’s Cup title win, and among the negatives was the injury he suffered last year and caused him to miss several games.
“I have continued to work very hard, I have felt very good,” Iniesta said of the last few months.
This season of the Japanese league, which started in February, Iniesta played only 85 minutes in five appearances in the League and Cup. His team is the leader of the J-League after 14 games.
“I would like to try to finish my career as a soccer player playing on a soccer field, and that part is now being complicated,” Iniesta said when asked by the media about his future.
“I don’t know, I want to continue playing, I feel capable and excited to continue doing so, but closing this stage we will see what options there may be,” said the midfielder.
“I feel very proud of this step, of having helped this club to continue growing”, said Iniesta, thanking his club and his fans on several occasions.
The former FC Barcelona player, world champion and double European champion with the national team, received a bouquet of flowers from his teammates and posed with them before the cameras after the appearance, also attended by his wife and children.
The soccer star, who turned 39 on May 11, joined Vissel Kobe in July 2018, and was part of the best 11 players in the Japanese league in 2019 and 2021, but since suffered various injuries that have prevented him from maintaining regularity. EFE