With several high-profile players having retired in the past 12 months, we look at the world’s strongest Retiring XI.
Goalkeeper: Steve Harper
One of the most loyal footballers, Steve Harper stayed at Newcastle United for his entire club career. In August 2012, Harper became the longest serving player in the history of Newcastle United, having spent 19 years at the club.
In his Magpies career, Harper was loaned to 6 different clubs and could only create a disappointing figure of 199 appearances after serving the club for almost two decades.
Right Back: Ledley King
Ledley King has had one of the most frustrating careers. In his 14 years of senior career, King faced various major injuries that kept him away from the pitch.
Progressing through the Tottenham youth academy, King never left the London club for his entire career making 313 appearances for the club. King announced his retirement on 19 July 2012 as a result of the chronic knee injuries that plagued much of his career.
Centre-back: Jamie Carragher
Jamie Carragher is regarded as one of the greatest defenders in the history of Liverpool football club. A boyhood Everton supporter, Carragher joined Merseyside rivals Liverpool in the year 1990 and retired after an emotional farewell at Anfield in the final game of the 2012/13 season.
The 35-year-old Englishman has a total number of 737 appearances for the Reds winning various trophies including two FA Cup and one Champions League.
Left Back: Paulo Ferreira
The Portuguese is popular for his versatility to play on both the flanks of the defence. After playing for Porto for two years, Jose Mourinho signed him for Chelsea in the year 2004 for £13.2 million.
Re-uniting with his Porto boss and team-mate Ricardo Carvalho, Ferreira made an impressive debut season for the London club. However, due to injuries, the full back failed to shine at Stamford bridge.
Central Defensive-midfielder: Mark van Bommel
One of the most successful Dutch footballers, van Bommel was a tackling machine and an expert ball-winner. Van Bommel had relished his spells at PSV, Barcelona ,Bayern Munich and AC Milan winning eight national Championship titles in four different countries.
The 36-year-old midfielder returned to PSV in 2012 after he left the club in 2005 for FC Barcelona. However, on 12th of May 2013, van Bommel announced his retirement from professional football.
Right Midfielder: David Beckham
Probably the most high-profile name who retired in the past 12 months, David Beckham’s announcement came as a shock for most of the people. Ending his glittering career at Paris Saint Germain, Beckham was the world’s highest paid footballer for the past few years.
Born in London, Beckham was a member of Manchester United‘s youth academy famously known as the Class of ’92 under Sir Alex Ferguson. The English midfielder was a great finisher, a terrific crosser and one of the finest free-kick takers in Europe.
Centre Midfielder: Paul Scholes
Manchester United fans have been lucky enough to see the club’s greatest midfielder retire for a couple of times! After serving the Old Trafford club for almost two decades, Scholes announced his retirement at the end of the 2010/11 season. However, he reversed the decision and re-joined the club in January of 2012.
One of the most admired footballer, the ‘one-club man’ has been a great passer and was capable of scoring from long range. Scholes has won numerous trophies with the club including 11 Premier League titles, three FA Cups and two Champions League trophies.
Left Midfielder: Michael Ballack
Besides his four years at Chelsea, Ballack played in Germany for his entire club career. Well known for his passing and as a scoring-midfielder, Ballack won the German Footballer of the Year award three times.
Before winning a Premier League title under Jose Mourinho, Ballack already had three Bundesliga titles under his name with Bayern Munich. The German midfielder has played two Champions League finals with Bayern Leverkusen and Chelsea, losing both of them.
Right Forward: Michael Owen
Owen is one of the several British names who retired in the past few weeks. Even after facing some major injuries over the years, Owen’s career in British football is considered as a success.
Ending his career at Stoke City, Owen has played for some big clubs including Liverpool, Real Madrid, Newcastle and Manchester United. The 33-year-old striker has won the 2001 Ballon d’Or award and is the all-time youngest player to reach 100 goals in Premier League.
Centre Forward:Filippo Inzaghi
Filippo Inzaghi is currently the second all time most prolific goal scorer in European club competitions with 70 goals. The Italian gained a great success at Juventus and AC Milan, scoring goals more than often.
Inzaghi has won the 2006 World Cup for Italy and two Champions League trophies with AC MIlan. On 24 July 2012, Inzaghi announced his retirement from professional football in order to start a coaching career.
Left Forward: Andriy Shevchenko
Shevchenko, the 2004 Ballon d’Or Winner, has been a goal scoring machine over the past few years. The current Ukrainian politician announced retirement on 28 July 2012.
After his impressive spells at AC Milan and Chelsea, Shevchenko returned to Dynamo Kyiv, where he had progressed through the youth academy in early 90s. Shevchenko is ranked as the third most prolific goalscorer in all European competitions with 67 goals.
Special Mentions: Fabrice Muamba, Stilliyan Petrov
Manager: Sir Alex Ferguson
The Manchester United boss signed off on his illustrious career after seeing off his 1500th and final game for the English Champions in a 5-5 draw against West Brom. The greatest British manager of all time, Ferguson also achieved great success at Aberdeen, against all the odds. During his 26 years at Manchester United, Sir Alex won 38 trophies, including 13 Premier League and two UEFA Champions League titles.