With the recent bombshell retirement of Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck this past weekend, who announced he would be stepping away from the game at just 29 years-young.
It made me think about our game of Football (or Soccer as the American’s call it) and the players in recent years who have decided to retire too early whether it was their choice or due to injury.
The fact most fans gets annoyed about early retirements, we should only be thanking these players for all the good times and highlight-reel clips that have lasted long in their legacy. I’m sounding like their dead and buried, but you know what I mean.
First up is a former Real Madrid and French international who retired too early from football in 2006, right after that famous head-butt in the World Cup against Italy. Remember that?
At the age of 34 that certainly was one and done for Zinedine Zidane, which was a shame and awful way to end your playing career for anyone. Zidane should have returned for one more season with Madrid just to make things right.
During his career he won the World Cup in 1998 and Euro 2000 with France, Champions League in 2002 with Real Madrid, Ballon D’or in 1998 and also Fifa World Player of the Year three times. Pretty impressive.
With 506 club caps and 108 games for his country during a stellar career, maybe Zidane made a promise to his family that after the World Cup he will hand up his boots for good. You can’t really deny a players desire to retire when they’ve given so much to the footballing world.
Continuing on with the French retirement theme who can forget about the man who fly-kicked a supporter?
It wasn’t all a negative career for Eric Cantona who lived on the edge as a professional footballer. Retiring in 1997 at the age of 30 while still at the height of the game shocked supporters.
143 appearances and 64 goals for Manchester United, the striker was always someone who you could expect the unexpected. United fans were left to wonder what might have been, had ‘King Eric’ continued to play on into his thirties as he was surely capable.
In his five years at Old Trafford the enigmatic Frenchman had won four Premier League titles, two FA Cups and named as the Football Writer’s Player of the Year and the PFA Player of the Year.
Another Man United legend and also Northern Ireland international who retired too early was George Best.
When you’ve won two league titles and a European Cup, as well as being named as the European Footballer of the Year, you might think that there’s not a lot more to achieve in the game?
That was the case for George Best, who by the age of 26 was becoming disillusioned with football and was also pretty occupied with the pursuit of birds and booze.
Following the retirement of manager Matt Busby, Manchester United went into decline and Best was finding it difficult to combine his off the field antics with his football ability.
In 1972 he announced his retirement for the first time from the game aged only 26. The then Manchester United manager Tommy Docherty persuaded him to come back but in 1974 Best gave up on top flight football for good. He would continue to play football later on in America but never again reach the same potential.
Some of you may remember Ryan Mason from his days at Spurs as the next best English-talent to break through the ranks. Haven’t we heard that before?
The promising midfielder came up through the youth team with the likes of Harry Winks but had to end his career short at the age of just 27.
From 2008-2016 Mason totaled 53 caps for Spurs as he tried to make his mark on the senior team. He captained Spurs against Fiorentina in a 1–1 draw in the Europa League 2016 competition and scored in the 3–0 win in the second leg.
After a disappointing 2015-16 campaign with only 8 league starts, Mason was bought by Hull City in the summer of 2016. However in January 2017 in a Premier League match against Chelsea, Mason suffered a fractured skull that required surgery, after a clash of heads with defender Gary Cahill.
Mason underwent a successful operation on the head injury and throughout the rest of 2017 went through rehabilitation. However in February 2018 it was confirmed that due to risks associated with the extent of Mason’s injury, he would be retiring from professional football.
Hailed as the new David Beckham, things didn’t work out to plan for David Bentley after his big money move to Spurs for £17 million.
Bentley struggled to continue the fine form he’d shown at Blackburn and eventually lost his place in the squad. Loan moves to Birmingham, West Ham, FC Rostov in Russia of all places and finally back to Blackburn.
When his contact at Spurs expired in 2013 it was assumed he’d be snapped up pretty quick on a free transfer. Instead Bentley spent a year without a club before announcing his retirement in 2014 at the age of 29.
He is now based in Marbella where he runs a restaurant and several beach club businesses (Believe me I’m not making this up).
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