Karim Benzema, Real Madrid's esteemed captain, hung up his boots for the legendary club in a heart-stirring farewell at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium. His final game was marked by a triumphant penalty against Athletic Bilbao in the 38th and final round of the Spanish league on Sunday.
Stepping off the Santiago Bernabeu pitch for the last time, Benzema was honored with a standing ovation from fans and peers, acknowledging his storied contribution to one of the world's most celebrated football clubs.
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The moment of his replacement by Luka Modrić in the 72nd minute against Atletico, after securing an equalizer, was a poignant moment for the Madrid crowd and an undeniable testament to Benzema's legendary status. Post-game, a chorus of farewell messages and statements poured in, with Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois being one of the first to express his thoughts.
Courtois paid tribute to his teammate: "It’s been a pleasure playing with Benzema. He’s an excellent player and a true legend. It’s a shame he’s leaving, but we understand. He has the right to decide his future.
I hope it goes well for him and his family."
A Tribute to an Unforgettable Career
Manager Carlo Ancelotti expressed surprise at Benzema's departure but showed his respect for the decision, acknowledging it as part of the club's inevitable evolution.
"His departure was a surprise for everyone, but you have to understand it. It was a last-minute decision. Yesterday he trained normally and today he made this decision," Ancelotti explained during a press conference. Ancelotti further praised Benzema's work ethic and humility, signaling his departure as a significant loss for the club.
"We cannot be happy about his farewell, but we have to respect his decision. He has won the right to choose and we all thank him for what he has been able to do at this club. It has been legendary, something unforgettable, and it will remain forever in the memory of this club."
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