Every footballer dreams of representing his nation and win laurels with the national team. Many eminent footballers have got the opportunity to represent their respective national teams. A number of greats have won numerous trophies and accolades with the national team while some haven’t. Many footballers have gone on to represent their national teams till the age of 40 but there have been a number of footballing greats who hung their boots with the national team when they were quite young and at the peak of their careers.
Here’s a list of five such footballers who ended their international careers prematurely.
Pele made his international debut in 1957 and was selected to play in the 1958 World Cup where he played a pivotal role in Brazil’s first World Cup win in 1958 as he scored six goals including two in the final and was subsequently named the Best Young Player of the Tournament.
The 1962 World Cup which Brazil eventually won, was expected to be Pele’s World Cup but didn’t turn out to be so as Pele injured himself in the team’s group game against Czechoslovakia but not before a brilliant performance against Mexico, scoring a goal and providing an assist. The 1966 World Cup was a better outing for Pele as he was persistently fouled during the tournament and ended Brazil’s final group game limping on the pitch.
Although Pele vowed not to play in a World Cup after 1966, he returned to play in the 1970 World Cup where he helped Brazil to a third World Cup triumph. Pele scored four goals and was awarded the Golden Ball as the Best Player of the Tournament. However, this would be the last of Pele at the World Cup as he retired from the national team, aged only 30.