Clubs unite to hail retiring former Barcelona defender Abidal

Eric Abidal holds aloft the Champions League trophy following Barcelona's victory against Manchester United in 2011.

Matthew Peters/Man Utd via Getty Images

Eric Abidal’s former clubs have paid tribute after the defender announced his retirement from football.

The 35-year-old, who won four Spanish titles and two Champions Leagues with Barcelona and three successive French titles with Lyon, called time on his career on Friday after half a season with Greek side Olympiacos.

Prior to that, he had returned to his first professional club Monaco for the 2013-14 season and the principality club were among the first to salute him in a statement on their website.

It read: "AS Monaco congratulate Eric Abidal on a career which saw him wear the captain’s armband at Barcelona, one of the greatest teams of all time, several years after entering professional football in the ‘diagonal’ jersey." Monaco’s trademark colours are red and white diagonal halves.

The statement continued: "It was a great joy and source of pride to see ‘Abi’ wear our jersey again last season and he played a very important role in the club’s project.

"AS Monaco also pay tribute to his integrity and human qualities and wish him the best for the new page he will begin to write."

Barca ran a recap of Abidal’s career on their website, while on Vine they posted a video of the Frenchman being thrown in the air in celebration by his team-mates.

That was accompanied by the words "Thank you for everything Abidal!" in French, English, Catalan and Spanish, while they also tweeted a link to a YouTube highlights package of his Barca career.

Midfielder Javier Mascherano added on Twitter: "A pleasure to play in the same team as you. All the best in this new phase, friend, you are an example to us all."

A post on Lyon’s official feed read: "Three times champion of France with OL!! Bravo for your magnificent career @EAbidalOfficial! Best wishes for the future!"

Abidal also represented Lille early in his career and a statement on their website read: "He enters into the legend of French football and is one of the emblematic players to have worn the red jersey of Lille.

"Merci et bravo Eric Abidal."

Abidal also won 67 caps for France and in total made over 500 professional appearances, scoring four goals. One of those, for Barcelona against rivals Real Madrid, was widely posted on Vine and Twitter.

He also beat cancer, taking time away from Barcelona to undergo a liver transplant having first been diagnosed with a tumour in 2011. He made his comeback for the club in a Champions League clash with Real and was allowed to lift the trophy following the 2011 final, captain Carles Puyol passing the armband over beforehand.