Football is a tough taskmaster to bear. These days the stars at the highest reaches of the game get paid more than enough money, but its not always whats neededto stave off the draining lows that accompany being a top athlete. Pain, injury and mental illness all play their part in being just as opposing a force as even the most accomplished of opponents on the field of play.Getting to the ripe old age of 40 is not as common as it once was. Even more of a novelty are theplayers who pushed their playing days close to 50, much like Englands Sir Stanley Matthews did when he played his final professional match just five days after his half-century birthday.The game has changed so much between then and now. Some might say it has become more physically demanding, more mentally taxing and there are far more aspects to it than just the playing side of things. Its a business, a money-making machine and it can sometimes take a heavy toll. Whatever era you look at, though, there are players who had to retire early.Lets look back at some of those names and examine why their time was cut short.
#1 George Best
Some say he threw away his god-given talent in the prime of his career, others think he was a victim of a culture that simply over-powered him too often that it became normal to accept.
Whatever you think about why George Best petered out of the game it’s obvious that alcoholism and disinterest were his two most-cited downfalls, but what’s equally apparent is that he achieved so much during his stay at the peak of the game he deserves to be celebrated despite his personal foibles.
Out of the top-flight game not too long before turning 28 (although he stumbled from minnow to minnow for a few years after his initial retirement), the Northern Irishman won so many prestigious titles with Manchester United including the European Cup, European Footballer of the Year, English First Division and Charity Shield.
Hitting a plateau so early in his career, Best never fully recovered from his penchant for boozing and promiscuity, ultimately passing away aged just 59. He was one of the best players to ever play the game and it was such a shame that no-one ever saw him spread his wings at a World Cup or European Championship finals.