AC Milan defender Ignazio Abate has sent an emotional farewell message to both the club and its supporters after his final game.
The 32-year-old made his final appearance in a Rossoneri shirt during Sunday’s 3-2 win at SPAL, having had his San Siro goodbye a week earlier against Frosinone.
The decision was made by the Milan management not to offer Abate a new deal, and as such his 19-years of service to the club are over.
“If I think back to when I wore these ‘colours’ for the first time I still get emotional… I was a kid then and it’s thanks to this club that I’ve become a ‘Man’,” he said in a message on Instagram.
“Milan is not just a team, Milan is a ‘style of life’ and you perceive that only when you experience it on your skin… class, history, tradition, elegance.
“At Milan there were champions I fantasised about when I was a child, there were trophies that shone in the history of football, there was a world that I could see from the outside and dreamed to be a part of!
“Life gave me 10 unforgettable years in the Rossoneri shirt. Today I look back and can’t help but consider myself fortunate to have grown up with some real champions from whom I learned discipline, tenacity, the responsibility of wearing such a prestigious jersey.
“Everyone knows it would’ve been my dream to end my career with Milan, but at times dreams come true and at others they remain just locked inside your heart.
“Thank you to AC Milan, to all the employees I’ve known over the years, fantastic people always at the service of the squad and club. Thank you to all the coaches I worked with, because I learned from all of them and learned from their advice.
“Thanks above all to my teammates, current and former, many of whom I call ‘friends’, and I’m proud to do so.
“Two special thoughts go to Adriano Galliani, who always believed in me and was by my side even during difficult moments, and to him – Rino Gattuso – who represents, as I’ve said since I was a kid, the example that anyone in our profession should aspire to.
“But the biggest thanks, obviously, goes to YOU… my fans! You who supported me, sometimes criticised, but above all cared, loved and appreciated me as a man even before the athlete. Seeing you there, almost 70,000, standing and applauding as they shouted me name, gave me emotions that will remain indelible in my heart!
“Seeing that banner in the Curva Sud and being considered one of YOU is a privilege that fills me with pride!
“With Milan in my heart… since forever, now and forever more!!! Grazie, Ignazio.”