5 legends who retired in the 2018/19 season
Outside of a handful of admittedly huge games – the various play-offs across Europe, the finals of the Europa League and the UEFA Champions League – the 2018/19 season is practically over. And as all good things come to an end, the end of this football season has marked the end of the careers of some true legends.
From World Cup winners to Champions League heroes and club legends, the following 5 players have all hung up their boots at the end of 2018/19 – and will go on to be remembered as amongst the all-time greats in the game.
Along with Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta, perhaps no other player symbolises the Pep Guardiola-era Barcelona side that conquered the world more than Xavi. The Spanish midfield maestro – famed for his incredible range of passing and ability to dictate the flow of the game – spent an incredible 17 seasons at the Nou Camp before leaving in the summer of 2015 to finish his career in Qatar.
During his time with Barca, Xavi practically won it all. Produced by the famed La Masia academy, he broke into the Blaugrana first team in the late 1990s and became a key player under the tutelage of then-boss Louis van Gaal, winning his first LaLiga title in 1998/99. Xavi won two more league titles – as well as a first Champions League – under Frank Rijkaard, but he’ll always be intrinsically linked with the Guardiola regime at the Nou Camp.
Apparently considering a move to Bayern Munich following his starring role in Spain’s Euro 2008 triumph, Xavi’s mind was changed by Guardiola, who had taken over as Barcelona’s boss that summer, and it was his metronomic passing style that came to symbolise Pep’s tiki-taka revolution. Barca won a treble of LaLiga, the Copa del Rey and the Champions League in 2009/10, and soon became recognised as arguably the best club side in history.
More trophies followed for Xavi; two more league titles and another Champions League under Guardiola and then the same again under different bosses, as well as the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 with Spain.
Since leaving for Qatari side Al Saad in 2015 Xavi had largely faded from view, but with the announcement of his retirement this month he should go down as one of the all-time great midfielders.