Emotional De la Pena calls it a day
Veteran Espanyol playmaker Ivan De la Pena has announced his retirement from professional football, having badly struggled with injuries over the past few years.
De la Pena, 35, has played just five Primera Division matches in the last two seasons has decided to call time on his career at the end of the current campaign.
Speaking at a press conference today, a tearful De la Pena said: "I would've liked to have played more these years but, unfortunately, because of the injuries I haven't been able to.
"I want to thank everyone for all the support I've received. My head would like to continue, but my body has said enough.''
De la Pena came up through the youth ranks at Barcelona while he also played for Lazio and Marseille before moving to Barca's city neighbours Espanyol in 2002.
While at Barca, De la Pena won La Liga and two Copa del Rey crowns among other titles, while he also helped Espanyol lift the Copa del Rey in 2006. De la Pena also played five times for Spain.
Espanyol, who are safe from relegation and cannot get into the European places, finish their Primera Division campaign at home to Sevilla on Saturday and De la Pena is looking to make his farewell in that match.
"I hope to go onto the pitch once again, after so much time, and say goodbye from the centre of the field. Saturday`s will be my most difficult game. It will be tough but also nice,'' said De la Pena, who admits he has not thought about what his next step will be.
"I'm hoping to enjoy Saturday, to say goodbye on the pitch if the coach puts me on. Then we'll see. I would like to continue in the world of football, because it`s what I`ve always done, but now I want to be with my family.''
Villarreal striker Giuseppe Rossi was among the first players to pay tribute to De La Pena on Twitter, saying: "De La Pena thanks for everything. A pleasure to see you play."