At some stage or another, the career of every footballer must come to an end. Whether you’re Stanley Matthews who went gaily on the highest level until the age of 50, or Marco van Basten, who had no choice but to call time on his playing days at 28, all good things must come to an end.
Today’s video is one I’ve seen suggested a few times in the comments, so hopefully there is some demand for it and you all enjoy it. Great players retire at the end of every season, and our seven today features six titans of the game, and one who is a little more obscure but just as worthy of the recognition.
The seven is in no particular order, and potential retirees like Gianluigi Buffon won’t feature, just seven who have confirmed the end of their career.
Here are 7 footballers who are retiring this summer:
7. Iker Casillas
A true legend of the game, Iker Casillas broke into the Real Madrid starting XI at the age of 18, which is quite incredible for a goalkeeper. He went on to make 725 appearances for the La Liga giants, in addition to winning a record 167 caps for Spain. Casillas is said to be the only man to have won eight major trophies as a captain; namely La Liga, Copa del Rey, Spanish Super Cup, Champions League, European Super Cup, Club World Cup, World Cup and the European Championships. He will retire at the end of this season as one of the greatest goalkeepers to have ever lived, and following his recent heart attack and his wife’s own health struggles, we would of course join the rest of the footballing community in hoping Casillas – and his family – can have a happy and healthy retirement.
6. Petr Cech
Goalkeepers tend to have a slightly longer sell-by date than outfield players, and that has been the case with Iker Casillas and Petr Cech, both of whom have played top flight and European football in their final seasons with a combined age of 75. Cech is probably a top three goalkeeper in terms of the Premier League era, a Chelsea legend and one of the finest footballers the Czech Republic has ever produced. He is a four-time Premier League Golden Glove winner, but once his Arsenal team plays Chelsea in the Europa League final, Cech will hang up his gloves and become a sporting director at Stamford Bridge.
I’m trying not to wax lyrical about the incredible talent that we’re talking about football losing at the end of this season here, but that is very difficult with Xavi, who stands out as the finest player even among such gifted comrades. Poetry in motion on a football pitch, Xavi controlled games like a puppet master for two decades, pulling the strings in two incredible sides with both Spain and Barcelona. In truth, Xavi has been semi-retired since his exile to Qatar in 2015, but his official retirement still signals the end of a magnificent career and one of the sports finest exponents.
4. Robin van Persie
Following a season-and-a-half back at his boyhood club Feyenoord, where van Persie has scored 25 goals in 45 games, which is more prolific than he was in his first stint with the club, the Dutch striker is to call time on his illustrious career this summer. Van Persie joined Arsenal when he was just 20, and although his talent was always obvious, it took a while for him to show just how special he could be. His 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons at Arsenal and Manchester United respectively were the finest of his career, scoring 67 goals in 96 games and winning two Premier League Golden Boots.
3. Andrea Barzagli
A retirement that has perhaps gone a little under the radar outside of Italy, perhaps because of the other big name retirees this season and the fact that he has only made 10 appearances in all competitions this season, is Juventus legend Andrea Barzagli. A bit of a late bloomer at centre-back, Barzagli has made amends for that, going boldly on within the game late into his 30’s, and only retiring this summer aged 38. An uncompromising and intelligent central defender with four Serie A Team of the Year inclusions, Barzagli was part of a formidable back three made up of himself, Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci for both club and country not long ago. He retires as an eight-time Serie A, one-time Bundesliga and one-time World Cup winner.
2. Yaya Toure
The bitterness surrounding Yaya Toure’s departure at Manchester City is a real shame, as the Ivorian ought to go down as one of the Citizen’s four of five greatest and certainly most important players of all time. It was Toure’s goal which won City their first silverware of the Sheikh Mansour era in the 2011 FA Cup final, and he played a pivotal role in the club’s first two league titles during the Premier League era. He retires at the age of 36, off the back of a brief stint at Olympiacos, as one of the finest African footballers to have ever lived. And yes, that is Steve out of Line of Duty on the right there for our British viewers, he used to play professionally in Scotland with Greenock Morton.
1. Benjamin Nivet
The slightly more obscure name that I alluded to the introduction, and I did point out that this seven was in no particular order I might add, is veteran French attacking midfielder Benjamin Nivet. Our French viewers, and I must admit there aren’t many of them – we get more views from New Zealand, Romania and the UAE – will be familiar with Nivet, but the vast majority of our viewers probably won’t. The oldest player in this seven at 42, Nivet is Ligue 2 side Troyes’ all time record appearance holder and goal scorer. Naturally then, he is an absolute legend in the Champagne wine region, but he could also play a bit too. An intelligent and technical midfield playmaker with an eye for cracking a defence open with a through ball and a knack of cropping up with big goals in crucial games, Troyes will desperately miss the ageing midfielder.