Bengaluru/Doha, May 3: Barcelona legend and Spain's 2010 World Cup-winner Xavi Hernandez has finally decided to call time on his playing career after the end of the current season.
Xavi, who currently plies his trade with Qatar Stars League club Al Sadd, and is also one of the ambassadors of the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup, made the announcement shortly before guiding his club to the semifinals of the prestigious Emir's Cup at Doha's Al Duhail Stadium.
"It's been a privilege to play until the age of 39," Xavi was quoted as saying in the local media in Doha.
Xavi, who has been with Sadd since he ended his trophy-laden glittering career in Barcelona at the end of the 2015 season, had dropped hints in October itself that this could be he his last season as a player.
However, the midfield marshall expressed his dersire to turn into coaching.
"This season (2018-19) will be my last as a player, but I hope the future offers the chance to be a coach."
"What I've achieved in the last two decades has been a privilege," he said.
"Therefore, I believe it's my duty to take the initiative of the field and return through football whenever possible."
"During the next four weeks, I'll tie my boots to play the last matches of an unforgettable race that has lasted for 21 years and has taken me all over the world," Xavi said.
Xavi made his name at Barcelona in a team that made their opponents dizzy with their passing patterns and where he won four UEFA Champions League trophies, eight La Liga titles, two FIFA Club World Cups and numerous other trophies.
Xavi won it all.— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) May 2, 2019
He's calling it a career at the end of this season 👏 pic.twitter.com/R2NZ5ls3IY
Barcelona chief Josep Maria Bartomeu praised Xavi and also hinted at the possibility of a return to Camp Nou in any role.
"Congratulations on such an exemplary football career. You're one of the best we ever had. You know that the doors of La Masia are always open to you so we can continue to grow together," Bartomeu tweeted.
Xavi, congratulations on such an exemplary football career. You are one of the best we ever had. You know that the doors of La Masia are always open to you so we can continue to grow together pic.twitter.com/NiWpf3E7EP— Josep Maria Bartomeu (@jmbartomeu) May 2, 2019
With Sadd, he was aiming to become the first player to do the rare 'Champions League double' -- having won the European competition on four occasions with Barcelona, he was also eyeing the Asian Football Federation (AFC) crown. However, it did not materialise as Sadd went down to Iran's Persepolis in the AFC Champions League semifinal last year.
But Xavi still can bow out on a high as he has chance to lead Sadd to the Emir's Cup title and also take the Qatari outfit to the knock-out round of this season's AFC Champions League.