Explainer: What leads to retirement in professional football?
SPORTS By Robert Abong'o | April 2nd 2020
It no secret that in modern football, players hang their boots more than usual due to various factors.
Here are the main reasons why footballers decide to hang boots:
Football as we know it is a physical game and many players tend to pick up injuries. A player may call time on his/her football career when they pick up a horrific or a life-threatening injury.
Among those who retired from football due to injuries include former Manchester United captain Nemanja Vidic. The Serbian retired due to recurring hernia and back injuries.
Another figure who exited the football scene due to injuries was Daniel Agger. The former Liverpool and Denmark defender announced his retirement following persistent injuries that caused his standard of performances to drop.
However, due to medical advancement in football especially in the European Leagues, many players manage to find their way back into the pitch. For instance, Andre Gomes was carried off the pitch after suffering a serious leg injury in Everton's 1-1 draw with Tottenham in November last year but is back in training like nothing ever happened.
- Old age.
Probably the main reason why most soccer player retires from football. This is because with old age, most players lose pace and stamina.
Most players, especially when they hit 35 years of age are not in condition to play a full 90-minute-match.
Additionally, with old age the body becomes more stiff and prone to injuries which take longer to heal. As a result, many footballers retire in their late 30s or early 40s because their bodies can no longer handle the vigorous activities that are required to be good footballers. For this same reason, it becomes increasingly difficult to find a club that wants to pay them for their services.
Paolo Maldini, Edwin van der Sar and Ryan Gigs are considered “Top Breed Humans”, having played while still 40 years old and above.
- Poor performance
Over the recent years, many professional football players have retired over poor performance at major football tournaments. Some of them come from missed opportunities to lift a trophy, missed chances to score an important goal or over dependency to carry a team.
In 2016, Lionel Messi retired from international duty after missing a penalty against Chile in a penalty shootout as Argentina lost a fourth major final in nine years.
- Focus on club football
There are many instances where some players have retired from international football to focus on club football.
For some, it’s due to old age while others retire due to less game time or competition for slots from other national team’s members.
A key figure is Jamie Vardy, who effectively retired from international duty in August 2018 to focus on club football with Leicester.
Vardy falls behind Tottenham's Harry Kane is England first-choice striker at the moment with Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford and Chelsea's Tammy Abraham acting as back-ups.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is an iconic figure to have retired from international football to focus on club football.
The Sweden captain scored 62 goals in 115 games since making his debut since 2001, becoming the team's talisman and most-famous player, but struggled for form at Euro 2016.
- Medical condition or family issues
Many footballers retire due to poor health condition or family matters.
A good example is Fabrice Muamba, an energetic presence in the midfield for Bolton Wanderers. It was discovered that he had suffered a cardiac arrest and his heart was not healthy enough for him to continue playing.
Footballer left in floods of tears after receiving good news during game