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Zabaleta says goodbye to the City fans
Pablo Zabaleta has thanked the City fans after an emotional farewell following the 3-1 win over West Brom.
The 58-times capped Argentina international is out of contract in the summer and will move to pastures new, but leave behind many happy memories.
One of the most popular players of recent times, Zaba has been a firm crowd favourite with the City supporters who have resonated with his passion, heart and willingness to put his body on the line time and time again.
With 331 appearances made since his bargain £6.5m move from Espanyol, Zaba joined City the day before it was announced Sheikh Mansour was the Club’s new owner.
Only Vincent Kompany has been with the Blues longer, having joined just nice days earlier than the Argentinian.
He made his debut for City in September 2008 – the same day as fellow new arrival Robinho – as Chelsea triumphed 3-1 at the Etihad.
In a series of firsts, he received his first red card against Liverpool a month later and his first goal against Wigan Athletic in January 2009.
By that point, the tough-tackling right-back had already cemented his place in the fans’ hearts and would remain a crowd idol throughout his time at the Etihad.
His father was involved in a serious car crash not long before the Blues reached the 2011 FA Cup final and Zaba flew back to Argentina to be by his bedside.
He returned in time for the final and came on as an 88th-minute sub for Carlos Tevez as City ended their 35-year wait for silverware with a 1-0 win over Tony Pulis’ side.
Zaba shared right-back duties with Micah Richards during the 2011/12 campaign but it was his goal that broke the deadlock against QPR as the Blues went on to clinch a dramatic last-day title triumph.
He was voted the MCFC Player of the Year for 2012/13 and captained the Blues several times during Kompany’s absence with injury.
The only downside was an 84th-minute red card in the 2013 FA Cup final that City lost 1-0 to Wigan Athletic in added time.
At the end of the campaign he was also voted into the PFA Team of the Year – the only City player to be nominated by fellow professionals.
He would add another Premier League title in 2014 as well as a Capital One Cup victory over Sunderland in his best season yet in terms of silverware and made 48 appearances in all competitions.
For the first time in his City career, injuries took their toll last season and he made just 22 appearances after missing most of the first half of the season and this year, he’s played 30 times to date, scoring two goals to make a total of 12 for the Blues.
Fans will have the opportunity to show their appreciation for one of the Club’s most loyal and loved servants of recent times against West Brom on Tuesday evening which will be Pablo’s last home appearance.