The legendary Gerard Pique was driven to continue playing in his later years only by his devotion to Barcelona. Suddenly retiring in November of last season, the 37-year-old contributed significantly to the club’s financial situation. He passed on a large portion of his remaining contract salary.

After leaving the academy as a youngster to play for Manchester United, the center defender spent 15 years with the Barcelona first team. Following a four-year stint with the Red Devils, he made his comeback in 2008. During that time, he spent one season on loan with Real Zaragoza,

He learned the ropes from Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic. However, the veteran brought home one Premier League and one Champions League trophy during his brief but unimpressive stint.

But it seems like the World Cup winner’s career almost took a very other turn. One in which, instead of playing for them, he would have faced off against the Red Devils.

Pique on failed Arsenal move

Arsenal and Manchester United, both from the Premier League, showed interest in Pique before he signed his first professional contract. Even though they had previously acquired Cesc Fabregas, the Gunners attempted to capture Pique from the Spanish club. United, however, came in to derail the plan.

“The first one was Cesc [Fabregas] the summer before I left to go to Manchester United,” he told BBC Five Live. “Then Arsene [Wenger] came to sign me. At that time Arsenal didn’t want to get into a big fight with Barcelona because they already took Cesc.”

“So, they were trying to arrive to a deal with Barcelona and it took more time than we wanted to so Manchester United arrived and said, ‘Listen, we want you, let’s make a decision right now,’ and I decided to go there.”

“And it’s true that later on I think Arsene also tried to sign Messi – but he didn’t have a chance. So, then the good part of that is all of us went back to Barcelona, we played together again for the first team of Barcelona.”

Pique on how Barcelona saved his career

Piqué accomplished tremendous things on the field, both on a global and a national scale during his stellar playing career. He was a rock for Barcelona‘s defense during their golden age. The defender formed an unbeatable tandem with Carles Puyol and, subsequently, Javier Mascherano.

He was one of the greatest defenders of his time, cemented by his several La Liga, Champions League, and domestic cup victories with the Blaugrana. The question of whether he ever had the opportunity to join Manchester City or Manchester United was posed to him upon his return to Catalonia.

“No, no, not really. There was a moment in my career when I was like 30, where I don’t think I would’ve played for any other team if it wasn’t Barcelona. Because I was not tired, but the career was already long, and for me Barcelona was everything.

“If not, playing for another club, the last four or five years I played because it was Barcelona, I’m not sure I would have found the motivation to keep going. I would have retired,” he added.