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The end of an era as Weligton quits

Weligton is applauded as he enters the field at the Ciudad de Málaga stadium / malagacf.com
Weligton is applauded as he enters the field at the Ciudad de Málaga stadium / malagacf.com
  • The Brazilian received a rousing ovation at the Ciudad de Málaga stadium as the club held an open training session hours after the news broke

  • Injured since September, the defender will give up his space as a non-EU player in the squad to Peñaranda

At 37 years of age and in his tenth season with the club, Weligton, a mainstay in the side's defence has taken the unusual step of offering up his spot in the squad. The Brazilian announced on Monday that he would step aside to vacate a spot reserved for players from outside of the European Union, namely to facilitate the loan arrival of Adalberto Peñaranda, 19, from English club Watford.

La Liga only permits three non-EU players and until now, those spots have been occupied by Weligton, Roberto Rosales and Michael Santos.

Whether this is the end for the veteran remains unclear, though. His current deal runs until the end of the current campaign and, fitness permitting, he could still see his contract renewed.

In a statement released to the public via social media, Weligton said: "Several times I have made my position clear: the day I can no longer play or that the club no longer needs me then I would go. [...] This is not a time to think about myself. [...] I am and always will be 'malaguista' [someone associated to the Malaga CF cause] and 'malagueño' [someone from Malaga] and I believe that the club goes ahead of everything else."

This caused a massive outpouring of support from both his teammates and fans who commended his professionalism (he was in no way obligated to make this move) which has been seen in abundance since his arrival from Swiss side Grasshoppers in 2007, when Malaga were in the second tier.

However, he would later enjoy the greatest period in the history of the club as he played an instrumental role in the side's run to the quarter finals in the 2012-13 Champions League.

In recent years, the Brazilian has often captained the side (in the absence of Duda) but since the tail end of last season, he has been increasingly struggling for fitness. He has been out of the side since November, when he had to undergo surgery on his right knee.

Weligton was a shadow of his former self during the preseason Carranza trophy and found himself on the bench for the opening game of the season against Osasuna. His only appearance this campaign came against Villarreal (0-2, 10 September) when he looked off the pace and gave away a penalty.

Retirement now looks most probable given his fitness issues, but neither the player nor the club are speaking in these terms as he continues his recovery within the team set-up. However, should he not return to playing action, a role within the club's hierarchy, whether as an ambassador or a coach, looks likely.

The Brazilian is certainly a club legend, racking up the fourth-highest number of top-flight appearances, with 217, behind only Martínez (239), Migueli (271) and current captain Duda (308).

A hero's reception

He received a hero's reception from the 3,000 fans in the stands at the Ciudad de Málaga stadium as the club held an open training session just hours after the announcement. The rest of the playing staff took to the field to warm up, leaving the biggest and final ovation for the Brazilian who emerged alongside new head coach Marcelo Romero.

A message for all fans:

On many occasions I've made my position clear: the day that I can no longer play or that the club no longer needs me, I would have no problem giving up my position in the squad.

For the last few months I have tried to recover from my injury but now is not the time to think about me. If the club needs to free up a spot for a signing then I will do that.

I am and always will be 'malaguista' and 'malagueño' and I believe that the club should go before everything and everyone else.

Weligton