Summing up everything I have lived during the past two years in Beijing in a few words is practically impossible; every moment has been like a still photograph that would just need the right frame to make a wonderful album. After so many great experiences and anecdotes, I could have never imagined that the moment of my departure for Spain, in the early hours of November 5, would bring the best image and memory; 500 Beijing Guoan followers were waiting at the airport to say goodbye and wish me luck. Their generosity, affection, warmth, closeness and appreciation for the work done at the club in these last two years made me burst with emotion. I couldn’t hold it in. Happiness doesn’t come from pleasure, it comes from kindness, and the Chinese people have been immensely kind to me. I will never forget it.
Once inside the airplane, a series of images crossed my mind at the speed of light: my arrival in February 2014, the second place in the Super League, all the club’s historic records, clean sheet (820 minutes), consecutive victories (7), matches unbeaten (21), top of the group in the AFC Champions League, two consecutive years as the team with least goals conceded, having coached two Chinese players who made it to the German (Xhize) and Spanish (Dudu) leagues, and many more that have made my time in China an unforgettable experience in my professional career.
Beijing has given me the chance to live another culture, meeting people and coaching players with a different culture, perspective and mentality, and this has provided me with new moral, emotional and relational tools for my work and my personal life. Perhaps one day I will put down in writing all that I have lived, but for the moment, after two seasons and 80 official matches as Head Coach of Beijing Guoan, I can only offer my heartfelt gratitude and bid farewell. All the best.
Gregorio Manzano Ballesteros