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Bojan Krkic retires at 32: Ex-Barcelona wonderkid calls time on career that saw him fail to live up 'new Lionel Messi' tag

  • Bojan played 163 times for Barcelona
  • Failed to live up to expectations
  • Retires from football at 32

WHAT HAPPENED? Bojan graduated from the La Masia academy back in 2007 and spent the next four years in the Barca senior squad before being sold to Roma. The Spaniard went on to play for Milan, Ajax, Stoke City, Mainz, Alaves and MLS outfit the Montreal Impact as he struggled to maintain full fitness and prove himself as a consistent performer. Bojan moved to Japan to take up a new challenge with Vissel Kobe in 2021, but left the club in January and has now decided to hang up his boots. In a special ceremony at the Auditori 1899 of Camp Nou on Thursday, Krkic announced his retirement in the presence of Barcelona president Joan Laporta.

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WHAT THEY SAID: "These decisions are not easy. I have been away from home for 12 years and I feel fulfilled professionally," he said. "I wanted to enjoy the next stage [of my life] closer to my family. It's not a physical issue. I have had three injuries, but I recovered, I am 100%. It is a feeling, it's the reality. I am more excited about doing other things now than to keep playing football. I am grateful for everything I have experienced. I have played for Barcelona, I've played with great players, I have won trophies and I have played in other leagues. But I am ready to start new things now."

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Bojan started his career on a promising note, breaking Messi's record as the youngest-ever debutant at Barcelona, and went on to make 163 appearances for the La Liga giants, but anxiety attacks prevented the former Spain international from realising his full potential.

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"I didn’t go to the [2008] European Championship because of anxiety issues but we said I was going on holiday," he said in an interview with The Guardian in 2018. "I was called up for Spain against France, my international debut, and it was said that I had gastroenteritis when I had an anxiety attack. But no one wants to talk about that. Football’s not interested.

"Anxiety affects everyone differently. I spoke to someone who felt like their heart was beating 1,000 times a minute. With me, it was dizziness, feeling sick, constant, 24 hours a day. There was a pressure here (pointing to his head), powerful, never going away."

Bojan added on dealing with comparisons to Messi: “It all happened very quick. In footballing terms it went well but not personally. I had to live with that and people say my career hasn’t been as expected. When I came up, it was ‘new Messi’. Well, yes, if you compare me with Messi … but what career did you expect?"


Messi Krikic (Only Embed)Getty ImagesBojan Krikic Mainz 05 04022017Getty ImagesKrikic (Only embed)Getty Images

WHAT NEXT FOR BOJAN? The ex-Barca star was also asked if he had any advice for Ansu Fati after announcing his retirement, with the 20-year-old now treading the same path that he and Messi once did. Bojan replied: "Not only him, but all youngsters - know what it means to wear the shirt, there are thousands who would come walking to play. There are youngsters who already want to be in the first team, one should have calmness & patience."