Soccer

Messi in emotional tribute to retired Mascherano who Barcelona ‘miss’

Lionel Messi has paid tribute to his former Barcelona and Argentina team-mate Javier Mascherano, after the 36-year-old announced his retirement.

Mascherano called time on his illustrious playing career over the weekend, with the former Liverpool star saying: "I want to announce that today I am retiring from soccer professionally.

"I want to thank this club [Estudiantes] that gave me the opportunity to finish my career in Argentina."

Now, Messi has penned an emotional tribute to both Mascherano and fellow Argentinian international Fernando Gago, who also retired this month.

Gago announced his retirement on social media, writing: "I want to tell you that I've taken the decision to finish my career as a professional footballer.

"After 15 years of playing, I'm choosing this path with total calm and satisfaction. As everyone knows, I've lived some fantastic moments and I've enjoyed a career that I couldn't have imagined in my wildest dreams as a child.

"I also had difficult moments, repeated injuries which affected me in these last few years, but at the same time they taught me and they made me the person I am today.

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"Now I find myself without physical problems, I've achieved the objectives I wanted to and that's why I'm deciding to take a step aside.

"I'm happy to be leaving football my way, through my own decision, at this moment."

In a post on Instagram, Messi honoured both players, writing: "Two people who I lived with and enjoyed for a long time are leaving football and I want to take the opportunity to say hello: Fer, dear, I hope everything goes great.

"Since the 17 years we met … It was a pleasure to share a dressing room in the national team and compete against you, you know that. I hope everything continues well and you can continue to fulfil your dreams.

"And what can we say about Masche, so many years together, seeing each other every day and sharing so much … We live very happy moments and also some hard times on the field both in Argentina and in Barcelona.

"We have been missing you since you left. I wish you all the best for you and your family always!"

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