“These years at Real Madrid, and in this city of Madrid, have been possibly the happiest of my life.
“I only have feelings of enormous gratitude for this club, for this sport and for this city. I can only thank everyone for the love and affection I have received.
“However, I believe that the time has come to open a new stage in my life and that is why I have asked the club to accept selling me. This is how I feel and I want to ask everyone, and especially our fans, to please understand me.
“They have been absolutely wonderful for nine years. They have been nine unique years. It has been an exciting time for me, full of kindness but also hard work because Real Madrid has a very high demand. But I know very well that I will never forget that I have enjoyed my football here in a unique way.
“I have had incredible team-mates on the field and in the dressing room. I have felt the warmth of an incredible crowd and together we have won three Champions League titles in a row and four Champions League titles in five years. And with them also, on an individual level, I have the satisfaction of having won four Ballons d’Or and three Golden Boots. All of this at this immense and extraordinary club.
“Real Madrid have conquered my heart, and the hearts of my family, and that is why more than ever I want to say thank you: thanks to the club, the president, the directors, my team-mates, all the technicians, doctors, physios and incredible staff that made everything work and that keep across every detail tirelessly.
“An infinite thank you once more to our fans and thanks also to all Spanish football. During these nine exciting years I have had great players who have played against me. All of them have my respect and my recognition.
“I have reflected a lot lately and I know that the time has come for a new challenge. I’m leaving but this shirt, this club and the Santiago Bernabeu will always feel like my own home wherever I am.
“Thanks to all and, of course, as I said that first time in our stadium nine years ago: Hala Madrid!”
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