In an emotional press conference at the Wanda Metropolitano’s auditorium, Gabriel Fernández ‘Gabi’ confirmed he will depart the club of his dreams to continue his career with Al Sadd in Qatar. Club president Enrique Cerezo, CEO Miguel Ángel Gil, Juanfran Torres, Koke and Saúl along with ex club captains Antonio López and Roberto Solazabal were present to hear Gabi’s heartfelt farewell.
“This is a difficult and emotional day for me,” Gabi said. “It’s been the hardest moment of my career. This club is a lifestyle for me.”
Our number ’14’ has left a legacy we will never forget. As our player, he won six titles: one LaLiga, two Europa Leagues, one UEFA Super Cup, one Copa del Rey and one Spanish Super Cup. Of these six titles, he lifted five of them as the team’s captain.
Despite having his emotional farewell at the Wanda Metropolitano's auditorium, during an official match this upcoming season Gabi will be able to say goodbye to the fans. The date will depend on Gabi's availability, as he now plays for a new club. With this tribute, Atlético fans will be able to say goodbye and thank the captain for everything he's done.
“I’d like to thank the fans for their non-stop continuous support,” Gabi said. “I’m leaving, but I’ll be back soon to keep on helping.”
Juanfran, accompanied by Saúl and Koke handed Gabi a commemorative shirt saying Gracias, Capitán (Thank you, captain).
"It’s an honor to have been by your side. We’ve lived incredible things together,” Juanfran said. “You represent us and this club’s values.”
“You’ve been a big brother to me,” Koke said. “Get ready because you’re going to be the next Atlético manager.”
“Everyone should say thank you for representing Atlético de Madrid better than anybody else,” Saúl said. “These moments have been magical.”
When he was a boy, he joined the Atlético de Madrid-Amorós school in the Alevín category. Thanks to his hard work, commitment and skill, he kept rising through the ranks and was continuously called up for the youth Spanish National Team. Representing Spain, he helped the team finish second in the U-20 World Cup.
Our president and CEO stepped on the stage to hand Gabi a plaque showcasing and commemorating the 417 official matches he played for our club.
“Gabi is an extraordinary player who grew as a player in his 417 matches for Atlético,” our president said. “Our captain has been and is a reference for all our players. We’re sure he’ll showcase his red and white heart wherever he goes and will be an excellent ambassador for Atlético de Madrid.”
“For me, this is very difficult,” our CEO said. “You can buy players, but not captains.”
In the 2003/04 season, one of Gabi’s dreams became a reality and he became a part of Gregorio Manzano’s first team. That season, he played six matches and made his debut on 21 January 2004 against Sevilla. The following season, he played for Quique Sánchez Flores’ Getafe on loan. Once returning to Atleti, he played 32 matches in the 2005/06 season and 20 in 2006/07 before transferring to Zaragoza, where he played for five seasons. However, Gabi returned to our club in the 2011-2012 season.
In total, our captain defended our colours 417 times in a total of 11 seasons, making him the seventh player with the most matches in our history. Gabi’s mark is only surpassed by Juan Carlos Arteche (421), Isacio Calleja (425), Carlos Aguilera (456), Enrique Collar (470), Tomás Reñones (483) and Adelardo Rodríguez (553). He’s also scored 10 goals and given 43 assists as an Atlético player. His last goal came in the UEFA Europa League final against Olympique de Marseille. Gabi is also the Atlético player, alongside his teammate and friend Jorge Resurrección ‘Koke’, with the most matches in UEFA competitions: 79.
Gabi has become and is an example for all players in our academy and our fans in the stands. The Atlético badge is engraved in his heart and Atlético red and white blood runs through his veins. Gabi, you’re everything a captain should be. We will miss you.
See you soon, Gabi. Thanks for everything.