Paolo Cannavaro bid an emotional farewell as he brought down the curtain on his playing career in Sassuolo's 1-1 draw Roma on Saturday. The 36-year-old announced prior to this weekend's Serie A clash that it would be his last as a player as he prepares to join his brother Fabio in China.
Cannavaro will move to the Chinese Super League to take up a coaching role with Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao, Fabio having returned to the club as Luiz Felipe Scolari's replacement in November.
His final match ended on a high as Simone Missiroli grabbed a point at Stadio Olimpico, the midfielder's 78th-minute strike cancelling out Lorenzo Pellegrini's first-half opener.
"I really enjoyed it," he told Sky. "I entered the field with the carefree attitude of someone who knows how to have given everything to football, it was a fantastic day for me, closed with an excellent performance.
"To see the tears of the fans, it means that you have done something important. I aim to grow and learn the job I want to do in the future. I have always dreamed of leaving football at the top, I thank Sassuolo who have given me the chance to do that."
Sassuolo coach Beppe Iachini led the tributes to Cannavaro, praising the defender's professionalism as he embarks on a new journey.
"He's a great lad and a wonderful professional," he said. "I'm sorry he made this decision, but I am happy his final match coincided with a good team performance.
"I am sure that Sassuolo will keep him in their heart."