West Ham right-back Pablo Zabaleta has discussed the difficulties he has faced as he nears the end of his playing career.
After earning two Premier League winner's medals during a marvellous nine-year stay at Manchester City, the Argentine was released in 2017 and signed on with the Hammers. He was a fixture in the side during his debut campaign at the London Stadium, though the 34-year-old's playing time was drastically cut following the appointment of Manuel Pellegrini as manager
The Chilean arrived ahead of Zabaleta's second year with West Ham, with the latter making just 26 league appearances thereafter having only missed one the year prior.
In an interview posted on the club's official website, the veteran defender said: "It’s definitely the best league in the world and I’ve been enjoying my time in England. But honestly, I’m not getting any younger and the pace and the intensity of the game are getting really high every year and it’s getting difficult. I just need to enjoy myself.
"I’ve been at West Ham for two years and it’s such a great club with so many nice people working here, and in football you have to enjoy every single moment.
"It’s going to be hard," Zabaleta admitted. "I’ve been in England and the Premier League for so long and I will miss this a lot."
City purchased him from Espanyol for an undisclosed fee in 2008, with the Buenos Aires native becoming a firm fans' favourite on the blue side of Manchester for his tireless performances down the right flank.
Zabaleta was an integral part of the Sky Blues' march to a first domestic title in 44 years, Roberto Mancini's recruits pipping rivals Manchester United on goal difference after a last-gasp goal from Sergio Aguero versus Queens Park Rangers in 2012.
He won five major trophies at the Etihad Stadium, including two League Cups and a single FA Cup as City began to establish dominance on football on these shores.