Tissues at the ready: Andres Iniesta pens emotional letter to retiring Fernando Torres
Andres Iniesta has written an emotional farewell letter to former Spain team-mate Fernando Torres, who will play his final professional game on Friday before retiring.
The two men starred in Spain's golden era, winning Euro 2008, the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 in an unprecedented run of success for a European nation.
Before tasting glory together at senior level, Iniesta and Torres - who were born just two months apart - played in the same Spanish youth teams.
Torres and Iniesta will come face to face on Friday as the former's Sagan Tosu meet the latter's Vissel Kobe - whose side also features David Villa - in the Japanese J1 League.
And the former Barcelona (opens in new tab) midfielder has paid tribute to his old international colleague ahead of that fixture.
"It's very strange, I'd say beautifully strange. Here we both are, about to play your last game as a professional," Iniesta wrote in a letter published by El Mundo (opens in new tab).
“I still have some left. Here we are, on the other side of the world. It's as if life, funny as she is, had brought us all the way to Japan to say goodbye.
“Football brought us together more than 20 years ago, when we were children. Well, you will always be El Nino. And it will never separate us. We met when we had utopian dreams. That goal you scored for us at the U16 European Championship with the national team in England. I'll never forget the gesture you made to dedicate that goal to me. I saw it on TV because I had to go home with an injury.
"You, Fernando, have dignified this sport. Our sport. I'm not talking about the goals you've scored, because years ago I lost count, or the titles you've won in your wonderful career. I'm talking about your behaviour, your respect for the game, the team-mate, the opponent and, of course, the ball.
"It's been a wonderful journey. It has taken us to every corner of the world. And look where we are today. In Tosu, you and I playing a football match. One more.
"But it's not just another one, it's your last game, who knew? You face David Villa and I. Then you'll go home. Yours are waiting for you, although you have to know that the ball will be sadder today than yesterday. Enjoy everything that comes to you now and be happy. But how strange, Fernando. You haven't left yet and I miss you already."
Torres scored 38 goals in 110 caps for Spain, as well as 262 in 766 games for Atletico Madrid (opens in new tab), Liverpool (opens in new tab), Chelsea (opens in new tab), Milan (opens in new tab) and Sagan Tosu.
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Greg Lea is a freelance football journalist who's filled in wherever FourFourTwo needs him since 2014. He became a Crystal Palace fan after watching a 1-0 loss to Port Vale in 1998, and once got on the scoresheet in a primary school game against Wilfried Zaha's Whitehorse Manor (an own goal in an 8-0 defeat).