Football: Iniesta set for farewell appearance for Vissel

Andres Iniesta expressed his desire to repay the fans with a good showing on the pitch Saturday, with the Spanish great set for match action in his final appearance for Vissel Kobe in the J-League first division at home to Consadole Sapporo.

The 39-year-old former Barcelona star and 2010 World Cup winner has played only 38 minutes over three J1 games this term for in-form Kobe. But manager Takayuki Yoshida said Friday that Iniesta will see action in his final game at Noevir Stadium, whether as a starter or off the bench.

"I'm grateful for the love and respect the fans have shown me. I want to provide a situation they can enjoy and get excited about," Iniesta said in an online interview. "I want to convey a sense of gratitude."

The club said tickets for the match are all but sold out as Iniesta looks to make his first league appearance since May 7.

"There was difficulty in not being picked to play after putting my heart into training," said Iniesta, who helped Vissel claim their first major trophy, the Emperor's Cup, on New Year's Day in 2020.

"I've experienced a lot of things over these five years, which is a long time. While there will be a mixture of joy and sadness along with emotional swings, I want to enjoy it with maximum focus."

© Kyodo News