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Abidal dreamt of Monaco return
Jul 09, 2013 5:40 AM EST
Veteran defender Eric Abidal says he 'always' aimed to return to Monaco towards the end of his professional career.
Abidal made his senior professional debut for Monaco in September 2000 and went on to play 26 matches for the club from the principality before stints with Lille, Lyon and Barcelona, plus 61 appearances for France.
The 33-year-old defender has now come full circle and said on Monday at his unveiling he had declined offers from other clubs to return to Monaco.
"I started to play for Monaco at the age of 19," Abidal said.
"My goal has always been to return to Monaco, I have great memories.
"I am very happy to be here and to have the confidence of the president.
"Many people had doubts about me, talking about my health.
"Today I am very happy to be here and healthy."
Abidal has battled cancer over the past two years and had a liver transplant last year.
Despite having been told by doctors he could still play football after the operation, there had been plenty of speculation Abidal would retire when his contract with Barcelona expired.
But the left-sided and central defender was not ready to end his career just yet and is thrilled Monaco have given him an opportunity.
"My choice was easy, this let me come back to where I started to play," Abidal said.
"I really had the ambition to continue playing football after Barcelona and I fought for it.
"Monaco was my number one choice, even though I had offers from other clubs."
Abidal is Monaco's ninth signing since the seven-time French league champions were promoted to Ligue 1 at the end of last season.
Monaco have signed Radamel Falcao from Atletico Madrid, ex-Porto pair James Rodriguez and Joao Moutinho, former Real Madrid defender Ricardo Carvalho and veteran midfielder Jeremy Toulalan from Malaga.