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‘The GOAT!’ Arsenal pay glowing Nacho Monreal tribute after retirement

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acho Monreal, the popular former Arsenal defender, has announced his retirement from football at the age of 36.

The Spanish left-back has officially hung up his boots and called time on a 16-year professional career, having been released by Real Sociedad following the expiry of his contract at Anoeta earlier this summer.

Monreal missed the entirety of the 2021-22 LaLiga season due to a serious knee injury, having previously played 69 matches for the Basque outfit after leaving Arsenal in a £225,000 deal in 2019.

After beginning his career at Osasuna and starring for Malaga, he initially joined the Gunners in January 2013 for around £10million, going on to spend six-and-a-half years at Emirates Stadium as an increasingly rare transfer success story of Arsene Wenger’s later years in charge in north London.

Praised for his versatility that also allowed him to operate comfortably in central defence, Monreal made 251 appearances across all competitions in total for Arsenal, scoring 10 goals and laying on 20 assists. He formed part of the team that won three FA Cups between 2014-2017, starting in two finals at Wembley.

He also lifted the Community Shield three times and finished as a runner-up in both the Europa League and Carabao Cup, with the Gunners eventually moving to sign Scotland’s Kieran Tierney from Celtic as his long-term replacement.

Monreal, who also earned 22 senior international caps for Spain between 2009-18, announced his retirement in a stylish Instagram video, revealing that his troublesome knee was no longer up to the rigours of professional football.

“36 years playing football,” he wrote. “16 as a professional. Squeezing my body and taking it to limits that I would never have imagined.

“My knee sends me a message… loud and clear; I cannot continue! Do I get mad? NO! I listen to it and accept the situation and thank it for everything.

“A stage is over. Another starts. I’m happy and feeling good. One more time… I FEEL GOOD!!! And that gives me peace of mind.

“Life is a gift and I like to be grateful. Thank you @caosasuna @rfef @malagacf @arsenal @realsociedad for letting me cross your paths. What a good years….”

Arsenal paid tribute to the retiring Monreal with a tribute video of their own, highlighting some of his best moments in a red and white shirt and also the colourful off-field personality that made him such a popular character. They titled the video ‘La Cabra’, which is Spanish for ‘The Goat’.

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