Pablo Zabaleta bids emotional farewell to ‘wonderful’ Man City

Rob McCarthy

Pablo Zabaleta bid an emotional farewell to the Etihad Stadium as Manchester City cruised to a 3-1 win against West Brom.

The Argentinian full-back announced on Saturday that his nine-year spell at the club – which included 333 appearances – would come to an end when his contract expired this summer.

He received a hero’s welcome when he came on for the last 30 minutes of the win over the Baggies and was full of praise for the club.

He told Sky Sports 1: “When I first came to Manchester I never thought it would be that long to be honest. Being here from day one is something that has made me feel very proud. It’s been a wonderful nine years.

“In life at times you have to make tough decisions and I always think the best for myself, for the family and for the club especially. I feel it’s the right time for me to go on but believe me, I love this club so much.

“Thank you to the fans, to everyone…because they made me a better player and a better person and it was a big pleasure to play for the shirt.

“It was so tough to play that half-an-hour. So many emotions, moments, all the good memories came to my mind but like I said before it is something that I’m so proud of. What I have done for the club is just what every single player should do for the team they are playing for.

“So proud to have been (involved) in probably the most successful period in City’s history, so thanks so much.”

When asked for his favourite moments in a City shirt, Zabaleta added: “The first time when we beat Manchester United at Wembley in the semi-final of the FA Cup in 2011, then the first Premier League we won with (Sergio) Aguero’s goal at the end was probably the special one.

“Then the second Premier League with Manuel Pellegrini, my goal away in Rome in the Champions League, I don’t know, so many good moments.

“I’ve been so lucky to play alongside great players….it was an absolute privilege.

“I will enjoy my last few days with the club, there’s still one more game left to play. I wish all the best for this football club.”