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ATLÉTICO MADRID

Atlético Madrid's Juanfran 'leaves as an Indian' with emotional speech

Atlético Madrid's Juanfran 'leaves as an Indian' with emotional speech

Getty Images

Atlético Madrid right-back Juanfran has said goodbye to the club after 355 games and seven trophies.

Juanfran said an emotional goodbye to Atlético Madrid as he prepares to leave when his contract expires in June, claiming he "came a Viking and I leave as an Indian."

Atleti arranged a ceremony where the experienced right-back made a departing speech and was hailed by president Enrique Cerezo before being gifted a signed shirt.

"These are my last few days at Atlético, I hope to return soon, this is my home. They have been wonderful years, the best of my career," Juanfran said.

"It is an honour to be considered a legend of this club and it is incredible that people think I'm one of them."

The Spain international has made 355 appearances for Los Rojiblancos since joining from Osasuna in 2011 and has won seven trophies, famously including LaLiga in 2013-14, one Copa del Rey, a Supercopa de Espana, two UEFA Super Cups and a pair of Europa League titles.

He also started for Diego Simeone's side in the 2014 and 2016 Champions League finals, where Atleti were edged out by bitter rivals Real Madrid - the club where Juanfran started his career.

Juanfran admits "Real Madrid past"

"I came from a Real Madrid past, a Real Madrid father [but] I quickly changed to Atlético," he said.

"The other day I read 'he arrived a Viking, he left an Indian", and that's how it is. I leave as an Indian after feeling the magic of Atlético, the values and all those people who have let me give them all the heart I have.

"I have had wonderful colleagues who have made me be the good person and good professional that I am."

Cerezo, who has been Atlético president since 2003, offered a touching tribute to his now former player.

"There are two words that define the years of Juanfran - delivery and commitment," he said. "From the first training session to the last match.

"We do not say goodbye to you since this will always be your home. For your passion, courage, commitment, thanks with all our heart."

Juanfran added: "Thank you very much for loving me, being proud of me, chanting my name in the Calderon and Metropolitano. That is much bigger than these titles. People want titles but before this there's love and respect.

"Los Rojiblancos are my family. I thank them from the bottom of my heart. I will return soon to try and make us better. It's a moment of change, of transition.

"Others are staying to continue to pick up the slack. Koke is staying to be captain, there is no one better than him. I have lots of hopes for Atlético in the years to come. We will return to being champions."

Star forward Antoine Griezmann has announced his intention to leave the Wanda Metropolitano, while Juanfran's fellow defenders Diego Godín and Lucas Hernández have departed.

Midfielder Rodri has been heavily linked with a move to Manchester City, while the futures of Filipe Luis and Thomas Partey are also uncertain.