Spanish midfielder Iniesta to leave Japan's Vissel Kobe in July

Spanish midfielder Iniesta to leave Japan's Vissel Kobe in July

39-year-old central midfielder to leave club on July 1 after 5-year spell in Japan

By Can Erozden

ANKARA (AA) – Spanish midfielder Andres Iniesta, a former Barcelona and Spain regular, will leave Vissel Kobe in July after five years in Japan, his club confirmed on Thursday.

In a statement, Vissel Kobe said Iniesta, 39, will leave the club on July 1.

"It's always hard to say goodbye. I can only thank everyone for what I have experienced these 5 years in Japan. It has been an adventure that I will remember forever and in which I have learned and grown a lot. Thank you!" Iniesta said on Twitter.

He added that the former Spanish international hopes to bid farewell to Japanese fans in Tokyo on June 6 after a friendly game against his ex-club Barcelona.

Iniesta came through Barcelona's youth academy and played for this club's senior team in 2002-2018 to win nine Spanish La Liga titles, four UEFA Champions League titles, three UEFA Super Cups, and three FIFA Club World Cups.

While playing for Barcelona, Iniesta, who generally plays in the center, was one of the key members of his boyhood club and the Spanish national team.

Separately he helped Spain win the 2010 FIFA World Cup and scored the winning goal in the 2010 final against the Netherlands.

In addition to the World Cup success, Iniesta secured the UEFA EURO 2008 and 2012 titles with his native Spain.

In his five-year spell at Vissel Kobe, Iniesta won the Japanese Cup and the Japanese Super Cup once each.

He scored 26 goals and produced 25 assists in 133 appearances for Vissel Kobe.

As an individual, Iniesta won the UEFA Best Player in Europe Award for the 2011-12 season.

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