Eintracht Frankfurt Captain Says Farewell To The Bundesliga By Swapping Shirts With Referee
That final exit from the footballing stage is often an emotional one, even for the most stone-faced of athletes.
John Terry was heavily applauded when he came off in the 26th minute of his final match, in accordance with his jersey number, Francesco Totti gave a tearful goodbye in front of a packed Stadio Olimpico and Iker Casillas gave a somber press conference in room devoid of any teammates or club personnel.
Goodbyes during this pandemic have become less poignant affairs without the presence of fans to give one last bittersweet sendoff.
This led Eintracht Frankfurt center back David Abraham, club captain of more than four years and veteran of 185 Bundesliga matches, to bid farewell to his time at the club in a rather unique way: by swapping shirts with referee Manuel Gräfe after the final whistle.
The 34-year-old decided to move back to his native Argentina and signed with hometown club CA Huracán of the Primera División. Abraham made this mid-season relocation so he could finally spend time with his family, who he has been separated from since the start of the pandemic.
"It’s been very difficult being on my own," Abraham said, "especially with no one from Argentina being allowed to visit because of Covid-19. Knowing that I’ll be back by my son’s side from January has been an extra motivating factor for me."
"I am glad that I was able to end my career here, where I got a lot and gave a lot,” the Frankfurt captain added. “Eintracht was my most beautiful stop."
— Eintracht Frankfurt (@eintracht_eng) January 17, 2021
Abraham is not the first player to swap shirts with the referee, as Bayern Munich great Oliver Kahn did the same after his final match for the Bavarians in 2008.
No reason was given for the exchange, but it was refreshing to see a player show genuine respect for the efforts referees put in on a weekly basis.