Munich: Bayern Munich defender David Alaba sees his departure from the club at the end of the season as a chance to "do something new" and "take another step forward". The Austrian could move to Real Madrid at the end of the season.
"To grow, you have to leave your 'comfort zone'. I think that perhaps you have to go into the unknown to be able to mature again," he told club magazine 51 in an interview published online on Thursday.
"The dressing room and my teammates, the fans in the stadium, the atmosphere at Säbener Straße where I spent two years in the youth accommodation at the beginning. I’ll also miss the city of Munich where I’ve lived for 13 years and which has become much more than a second home for me. My son was born in Munich, his grandparents live here, so there will always be a close connection."
"I came here as a 16-year-old from Vienna and now we’re looking back at almost half my life, 13 years later. That really says it all. The club is my family, my home, my special place."
"Yes, it’s very simple: thank you for everything! I’ll never forget this relationship and it will always be in my heart."
It’s always difficult when something comes to an end and it’s no secret that I’ve always really felt at home here. Obviously, I’m leaving FC Bayern with a tear in my eye but also looking forward to my future at the same time. It wasn’t a decision against the club, but I decided I’d like to do something new and take another step forward. To grow, you have to leave your 'comfort zone' – and I deliberately put that word in quotation marks because it could possibly be misunderstood. At FC Bayern, the expectations on the pitch are always extreme from the management, in the dressing room or from yourself. I think that perhaps you have to go into the unknown to be able to mature again."
"Only the very best. This club will always be in my heart. I’m incredibly grateful. I wish FC Bayern carry on writing a great success story. And to be honest, I have no worries about this club there."
The Austrian Alaba is leaving Bayern after 13 years at the club. He joined the Bavarians youth academy as a "little rascal with big dreams" at 16 and will leave as a two-time treble winner.