Veteran defender and long-time team captain Carles Puyol said his goodbye to FC Barcelona on Thursday, signaling his retirement from professional soccer after a glittering career spent entirely with the Catalan club.

"The idea is to recuperate. Due to the physical problems, I've hardly been able to play this year and it would be hard for me to play in the future anywhere else," the 36-year-old Spanish international told a packed press conference, referring to chronic knee injuries.

Having ruled out coaching, Puyol said he has had discussions with Barça management about what other role he might play with the club where he won 21 titles, including six La Liga championships and three Champions League crowns.

Puyol was joined at the farewell by current and former teammates, managers and FC Barcelona executives, as well as past national team coaches José Antonio Camacho and Iñaki Saez.

"A stage is ending, but I expect others to come and I expect to enjoy them as much as this one," he said.

Besides 593 official matches with Barça, Puyol has made 100 appearances with the Spanish national side that won the 2008 European Championship and the 2010 World Cup.

He acknowledged the importance of the 21 trophies, but said he will remember his time with Barcelona more for the human relationships.

"I arrived as a child and I'm leaving with a family," Puyol said.

"I wouldn't have time to thank everyone, but I want to thank the presidents, directors, employees, coaches and my teammates. I have played with the best players and with the best people. I will miss all of you very much," he said. 

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