Newcastle skipper Fabricio Coloccini has hailed close friend Jonas Gutierrez as he prepares to leave the club after his “perfect” send-off.
The Magpies confirmed on Friday evening that the 31-year-old’s seven-year stay at St James’ Park would come to an end when his contract expires at the end of this month.
That means the final-day 2-0 victory over West Ham, in which Gutierrez scored the second goal to spark mass celebrations as the club secured their Barclays Premier League status, was his last contribution.
Coloccini said: “Jonas has been a great player for Newcastle and someone who has given everything for the club.
“He was here for seven years and that is a long time to be with one team. But this is football and life continues, and I am sure he will do well wherever his next club is.
“The fans here love him because in the worst days he was still here.
“Jonas stayed at the club in its worst days – when we went down – and he helped get us straight back up again.”
Not only did Gutierrez play his part in the Magpies’ return to the top flight in the wake of relegation in 2009, but he fought his way back from testicular cancer and back into the team, signing off with the goal which ultimately spared them from the drop.
Coloccini told Newcastle’s website: “I am very proud of him for that moment.
“In my opinion, one of the biggest reasons we stayed in the Premier League this season was because Jonas was on the pitch in the final game.
“Scoring in front of the Gallowgate End in his last game for the club was perfect.”