"Barça is the club of my life"
Rafa Márquez has revealed why he chose to leave FC Barcelona this summer and reflected on his seven glorious seasons at Camp Nou in an exclusive interview.
The Mexican defender played 242 games and won 12 trophies with the Blaugrana and he has talked
about his experiences to Barça TV and www.fcbarcelona.cat.
Why are you going?
"I have completed a cycle with Barcelona and seven years is a long time. I have won
everything and now I want to play regularly and have more minutes. I talked with Pep and he has
other priorities and I am ambitious and do not want to sit on the bench or in the stand watching
games. That is why I have left."
When did you decide?
"I thought about it a lot. First I focussed on the World Cup Finals and my first thoughts
were to stay but then I spoke to Pep about going and now I am convinced that leaving was the best
In your speech to the crowd when the team won the league it appeared to be a farewell
message. Had you thought about it then?
"I had talked to Pep before the season finished and was already considering going and that
looked to be the most probable thing because he placed his confidence in other players in my
How do you feel about the club's decision to pay you a farewell tribute?
"It makes me feel happy and proud. Many great players have left this
club and not been given that. I have always tried to behave well and believe that club have done so
with me and I will always feel a great friendship here both with the previous board and the current
one. I have a good relationship with Sandro Rosell and it was thanks to him that I joined the club.
I want to thank him for that and that I am leaving the club on a good note."
Last Satudray you went to the training ground to say goodbye. How did that go?
"I was sad. Saying goodbye after so many years is tough. Apart from my team-mate I said
goodbye to all the coaches and all the people that I worked with every day and have helped me
through the bad times. It is a sad moment, but I will stay in contact and will see them all again."
What does it mean to you to play for Barça?
"They have been the best years of my sporting career. I have given the club my all and Barça
will always be very important to me."
Have all the expectations you had when you joined in 2003 been met?
"More than met. I never thought I would win so many trophies. When you
join a club your priority is to win things. The club has changed completely since I arrived and now
is one of the best clubs in the world and I am proud to have been part of that change."
Having reflected on your time at Barça what is your abiding memory?
"When I joined nobody thought much of me. I was criticised but in the end I think I became a
part of the transition. I was important in the winning of so many trophies and felt that I had a
key role and came out on top."
You are the eighth foreign player to make more than 242 appearances. Is Barça the club of
"Yes, undoubtedly. I have won everything here and have played for a long time and that is not
easy. It is flattering to be among the top ten foreign record appearance holders. Barça will always
be the club of my life."
If it were not for injuries would you have retired at Barça?
"I think so. Injuries have not allowed me to play regularly, but I think that I have done all
I can during the past few seasons. There are different phases in life and now I want to make this
change for my benefit."
How do you think Barça fans will remember you?
"As myself. I never pretended to be somebody I am not and I hope that people remember me as a
gentleman both on and off the pitch."
Do you believe that you have changed as a person much since 2003?
"Yes. Joining a great club makes you grow up a lot. It makes you have
to mature both on and off the pitch and it is a lesson that you never forget and one that I will
try to transmit to my children and to anyone that wants to become a football player."
During the past seven years you have had two coaches in Frank Rijkaard and Pep Guardiola.
What do you remember about Rijkaard?
"He had faith in me, in my quality and my ability. He was a also a good friend during his
time here. His character helped me to learn a lot about the game."
Under Rijkaard the team stopped wanting to win trophies?
"There was a lack of order. The quality and the desire to win was always there. But
little-by-little we lost the discipline required. I think that was the main reason why the team
With Guardiola did you recover you self-esteem as a player?
"I think that we were all criticised during 2008 and many changes had to be made. Guardiola
arrived and talked to me and made me feel important by giving me more responsibility. That was
crucial for me and I regained my confidence."
Who is the best player you played with at Barça?
"There are many. From Víctor Valdés, Carles Puyol, Deco, Yaya Touré, Phillip Cocu, then
Lionel Messi, Ronalinho, Samuel Eto'o. I have enjoyed playing alongside all of them every day in
training and games. I have enjoyed myself, learned a lot and it has been a pleasure to work with
Some of your team-mates just won the World Cup with Spain. What did you think of
"They had every chance of winning it as they showed what they could do during the
qualifiers and they play the best football. The truth is that they were the favourites. I am
pleased because the base of the team comes from Barça and that means that I formed part of a side
that made history. Now they have done it with Spain."
Spain's next friendly is against Mexico. Would you understand if the Barça players did not
"As a player I would see it is a normal if they did not. But it is an honour for Mexico to
play the world champions regardless of whether the Barça players are there or not."
Which Barça will you miss the most?
"Puyol. He has been my team-mate in the dressing room and on the pitch. He is one of the
people that I will miss most. Also, Xavi because he has given so much support."
As a Barça fan what do you think will happen to the team now? Will they still be favourites
to win everything?
"They have the capacity and the squad so they can continue to enjoy more success. I have no
doubt about that."
How do you see the signings of David Villa and Adriano?
"They are two great players who were important to their previous teams. I think that the club
have wanted to sign Villa since last year and I believe he will fit in perfectly. He has shown how
good he is for the Spain team."
What is your next move?
"Nothing is definite yet. We are still negotiating with two options and I hope to
be able to make the best decision."
What will you miss most?
"Everything. I was accustomed to life in Barcelona and to the people, my friends, the place,
the climate. I enjoyed life here but I will be back in the future and would like to be continued to
be linked to the club."