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Five football players that didn't retire early enough

Jash Kriplani
CONTRIBUTOR
Top 5 / Top 10
23.13K   //    Timeless

San Jose Earthquakes v Colorado Rapids

It is said that a sportsman should retire when he is still winning and performing at the highest level so that he can leave a lasting legacy. But, in football, players often loath to leave the beautiful game and with so many leagues mushrooming around the world. The older players often find a place to ply their trade.

It seems like it doesn’t matter to them the manner in which they end their career, but what matters to them is how they can prolong it.

Here is a list of 5 players who could have called it a day on a high note, but instead chose to play at lower levels to keep their career going.


1) Peter Shilton

The FA England Awards 2013

Born: 18th September 1949

Age he played till: 47

Career: 1966-1997

In a goalkeeping career that lasted for 31 years, Shilton bagged 125 England caps and played for 11 different league clubs. He played in two European Cup finals and more than 1,300 competitive matches.

Shilton also had the honour of representing England at UEFA Euro 1980, the 1982 FIFA World Cup, the 1986 FIFA World Cup, UEFA Euro 1988 and the 1990 FIFA World Cup.

He made his World Cup finals debut at the age of 32. He played in 17 finals matches and shares the record of 10 clean sheets in World Cup finals with French keeper Fabien Barthez.

At the club level, Shilton was part of Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest, that was riding high after being just promoted to the First Division.

The club won the League title in 1977-78 season. This was their first season back in the first division, and Shilton was 28-years-old back then. During the season, Shilton conceded just 18 goals in 37 league appearances.

He was also named the 'PFA Player of the Year' for his displays. Forest won the League Cup again in 1979. The club reached European Cup final and beat Swedish side Malmo.

In the international arena, the goalkeeper was part of the England team that qualified for 1980 European Championships in Italy. Meanwhile, Forest once again reached the European Cup final in 1980 and beat SV Hamburg for the title.

The Leicester-born won his 30th cap for England in a 2-0 win over Spain in March 1980. He was 31 years old at this point.

There were several points in Shilton’s career when he could have retired at least at the club level. After 1980, Shilton didn’t enjoy the same success with Forest. Forest began to continue their trophy-winning form and Shilton got addicted to gambling.

There were even reports of an extramarital affair and a drunk-driving conviction. To be sure, he did manage to establish himself as the first-choice goalkeeper for England, but club successes were hard to come by at that time.

Shilton finally retired while playing for First Division team Leyton Orient at the grand age of 47 in 1996-1997. At the time of his retirement, he was the fifth oldest player ever to have played in the Football League or the Premier League.

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Jash Kriplani
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