Andres Iniesta revealed a fear he would fall below his impeccable standards persuaded him to call time on a celebrated Barcelona career.
The Spain midfield great tearfully told a news conference on Friday he will leave Camp Nou at the end of this season, adding he would not play in Europe to avoid facing Barca.
Iniesta pledged to make an announcement on his next move at the end of the campaign, with Chinese Super League club Chongqing Lifan widely speculated to be his next destination.
"It was long, months," the 33-year-old said of a decision-making process that came after he signed a "lifetime" contract with Barcelona last October. "It's not easy to say goodbye.
"Everybody knows that I'm honest with myself and with the club and if I couldn't contribute everything I was capable of then the time came to say goodbye.
"I'm almost 34, I've left everything out on the field. I've given everything to the club.
"If I couldn't give everything like I have until now I wouldn't be happy. I just want to be happy like I have been here."
Iniesta is set to capture his ninth LaLiga title this weekend having scored in a 5-0 Copa del Rey final thumping of Sevilla last time out.
He also counts four Champions League triumphs, glory at back-to-back European Championships with Spain and the winning goal in the 2010 World Cup final among his accomplishments.
Nevertheless, the playmaker insists his first competitive steps in a Barcelona shirt as a little-known teenager against Club Brugge back in October 2002 still stand out.
"I've given the best of myself in every sense. As a person representing the club and I tried my best. It's beautiful," he explained.
"There are so many [memories] it is tough to choose just one but I will go with my first-team debut.
"It's been a dream come true, lots of titles and proud moments throughout my career. But my debut with the first team is the most important for me."