Karim Benzema has insisted that it ‘really hurts’ to say goodbye as he leaves Real Madrid for an eye-watering £258million payday in Saudi Arabia.
The French striker leaves the Spanish giants to join Saudi Arabian champions Al-Ittihad on a three-year contract worth £258m this summer.
Real Madrid president Florentino Perez hosted a farewell ceremony on Tuesday morning, June 6, to honour the 2022 Ballon d’Or winner, who leaves the Bernabeu with four La Liga titles, five Champions League crowns, and five Club World Cup trophies.
During the event, Benzema said: ‘It really hurts, it’s not easy, I really wanted to retire here, but sometimes directions change.
‘I’ll always be watching Madrid games and I will always support Real Madrid, the best club in the world. Real Madrid will always be my family.’
The Frenchman closed off his farewell speech by saying: ‘As I said the first day, 1, 2, 3… Hala Madrid!’
Perez added: ‘Dear Karim, 14 years ago you arrived at Real Madrid and you have become one of the best players of all time. You are one of the symbols of this club, one of our greatest legends.
‘You have managed to move all of us who love football. You are a different footballer and it is true that some took time to understand you.
‘Today is a very difficult day for me. Some took a while to understand you, but you were always a different player. Benzema leaves Real Madrid with the love of the whole world. You are one of the chosen ones.’
Benzema’s new club Al-Ittihad are managed by the former Wolves and Tottenham coach Nuno Espirito Santo and finished five points clear of Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al-Nassr in the Saudi title race this season.