Last night Manchester sealed their top four fate with a win over West Brom at the Ethihad but the occasion will be remembered for the send off afforded to Zabaleta after nine years with the blue side of Manchester.
Zabaleta joined from Espanyol in 2008 and went on to become a fan favourite and a constant figure down the right hand side of City’s defense.
With Manchester City, Zabaleta has won all of English football’s major honours: the FA Cup (2011), the Premier League (2012 and 2014), and the Football League Cup (2014 and 2016)
Zabaleta could not stop himself from crying while addressing the City supporters for almost 10 minutes inside the Etihad’s centre circle shortly after full-time.
He claimed his favourite moment at City was beating Manchester United in the 2011 FA Cup semi-final, an answer to draw huge cheers.
‘Today is probably the hardest moment but it is so special,’ he said. ‘It’s been a wonderful nine years. Sometimes you have to make tough decisions.
‘I think it’s the right time for me to move on but I love so much this club. It was so tough to play that half an hour, so many emotional moments everyone was passing the ball.’
The 32-year-old – gifted a lifetime season ticket as well as a framed shirt on his 333rd appearance – told his team-mates what is now expected of them.
‘I know the good memories that come to my mind but I am so proud of what I have done for the club,’ Zabaleta added.
‘It’s just what every single player should do if they play… on and off the pitch always showing commitment and loyalty to the club.
‘I was so proud to have been part of the most successful period of City’s history, so thank you so much.’