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Playmaker Juan Carlos Valeron has left Deportivo La Coruna after 13 seasons following their final-day relegation from the Spanish top flight.

Valeron's final game for Depor was the 1-0 defeat at home to Real Sociedad on Saturday, which confirmed that the Galicians would suffer demotion on the last day for a second time in three seasons.

As the 37-year-old walked slowly and tearfully from the pitch after the final whistle, fans at the Riazor gave him an emotional standing ovation.

More than an hour later, Valeron confirmed that his time as a Deportivo player was over, telling a press conference: "It is not the best night for this, but I am here to tell you that I am leaving Deportivo La Coruna.

"This is the moment to end my time here. The decision was made a few weeks ago. I had hoped to announce it in different circumstances, with safety secured, but it was not to be."

Valeron joined Depor from Atletico Madrid in 2000, going on to play almost 400 games including the 2002 Copa del Rey final win over Real Madrid at the Bernabeu.

He said the drama and tension of recent seasons had taken their toll, explaining: "The last three years have been incredible - relegation, promotion, and then fighting until the last day.

"It has been so much, on a personal level, that I have reached the limit. Now I need to rest and then see what will happen in future."

The former Spain international said he may continue to play on in a less demanding environment elsewhere.

"This is not a retirement - in the next weeks I will have to think," he said. "Playing abroad is one of the options I have, returning to a club in the Canaries also. I do not really know what I will do."

Valeron said he hoped Depor, who have debts of €150 million and are facing an uncertain future, would be promoted back to La Primera next season with an influx of new talent and energy.

"Life goes on," he said. "Cycles end, but Depor must go on. People with lots of strength and energy are needed to bring the club forward. Next year will be very difficult - but we have bounced back before. Why can't we do that again?"

Asked whether he could see himself returning to the Riazor in a different role, he said: "You never know what will happen. I would not rule it out. That door is not closed."


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