6 iconic footballers who announced their retirement in 2016/17

Philipp Lahm and Xabi Alonso celebrating the Bundesliga title after their last match

Every year, the end of May is the hardest time for any football fan. Not only do the fans have to slowly come to terms with the lack of club football action for a few weeks, they also need to deal with the emotional roller coaster ride that the end of a season brings.

Some fans are left elated at the end of the season due to their favourite club’s fantastic performance while others are left to rue the way their team performed. Irrespective of all this, every year, a lot of respected players and managers bid farewell to the game or to a particular club and these are difficult times for football fans.

This season, Chelsea fans will bid an emotional farewell to their talisman John Terry but the Englishman will continue to play football elsewhere. However, many other iconic footballers will hang up their boots at the end of the season or already have during the course of the season. Here are six iconic footballers who we will not be watching as a player after this season.

Philipp Lahm

Philipp Lahm says goodbye to the Bayern Munich faithful ahead of his last game

A FIFA World Cup winning captain with Germany and a treble winning captain with Bayern Munich should speak volumes about the man Pep Guardiola once described as one of the most intelligent players he has coached.

Philipp Lahm is one of the finest players to have come through Bayern Munich’s academy. He made his debut for the Bavarian club in 2002 but it was only after his two-year loan spell with VfB Stuttgart that he became a regular for Bayern Munich.

He captained both club and country during his career and remained a crucial player for both teams throughout. Lahm was famous for being a tactically brilliant and versatile player who hardly ever committed a foul.

Aged 33, one can question if Lahm still has it in him to play a couple of years more, but he has earned this retirement. After all, he has the 5th highest number of caps for Germany and the 7th highest number of appearances for Bayern Munich.

Lahm can look back at his career and be proud of what he has achieved. A FIFA World Cup, a UEFA Champions League title and 8 Bundesliga titles among several other team and individual honours is no mean feat.

Francesco Totti

Totti will finally hang up his boots aged 40

When Francesco Totti made his debut on March 28, 1993, I was a one-year-old kid and here I am, writing about one of the most respected figures in football as he bids farewell to his playing career.

Very few people can match the longevity of Francesco Totti. He made his debut for AS Roma as a 16-year-old and retires as the man who personifies the club 24 years later.

Totti was an exceptional footballer during his best years. He was versatile, he was tactically brilliant, he had excellent vision and was also two-footed. It’s no secret that the giants of Europe tried to lure him away from Roma. In fact, he revealed that he was close to joining Real Madrid in 2003 but he put his love for Roma above all.

The Italian’s major playing honours are the FIFA World Cup he won in 2006 and the solitary Serie A title he won in 2001. However, he has numerous individual records to his name. He is the second highest goalscorer in Serie A history with 250 goals and the third highest in the appearances list with 617 appearances which only puts him behind Gianluigi Buffon and Paolo Maldini.

Although Totti is yet to confirm his retirement, Roma’s new sporting director, Monchi, has said that the talismanic Italian will retire at the end of the season.

Frank Lampard

Lampard played his final career game early this season with New York City FC

Not many midfielders make their way into the top 5 of a league’s all-time goalscoring charts but Frank Lampard is not like other midfielders. The Chelsea legend has scored a whopping 177 goals from midfield in the Premier League which makes him the 4th highest goalscorer in Premier League history and Steven Gerrard in 16th with 120 Premier League goals is the next midfielder in this list.

Lampard was a key figure for the Chelsea side that went on to win numerous honours during the Abramovich era although he was a Chelsea player before the Russian arrived. He went on to score 211 goals for Chelsea in 648 appearances while winning 3 league titles, 4 FA Cups, the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League.

Overall, he played 913 career games scoring 274 goals at club level and also has 106 caps for England scoring 26 times.

Lampard last played for MLS side, New York City FC and the left the club when his contract expired in November 2016. However, he only announced his retirement in February 2017.

Steven Gerrard

Gerrard retired in 2016 after his contract with LA Galaxy expired

Steven Gerrard’s entire career was a bittersweet experience. He chose to remain loyal to his childhood club Liverpool and notably turned down offers from Real Madrid, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Bayern Munich.

He led Liverpool to their greatest achievement in the 21st century by putting in a man of the match performance against AC Milan in the 2005 Champions League final. The following year, he fought injury to score two screamers to help Liverpool lift the FA Cup as well.

However, in the years that followed, Gerrard came agonisingly close to lifting the ever elusive league title twice and the second time around, his slip against Chelsea cost Liverpool their maiden Premier League title. Despite this, he always holds a special place in the heart of Liverpool fans.

Gerrard played 710 times for Liverpool while scoring 186 goals and was capped 114 times by England for whom he scored 21 times. He captained Liverpool between 2003 & 2015 and captained England between 2010 & 2014.

The Englishman left for MLS club LA Galaxy in 2015 and retired at the end of the 2016 MLS season. He is already working as an Under-18 coach with Liverpool.

Xabi Alonso

Xabi Alonso being subbed off for Franck Ribery in his final appearance

Very few people have the opportunity to play for more than one of Europe’s elite clubs but to play for three of Europe’s elite clubs is an achievement in itself.

“In my opinion, I’ve played for the best teams in England, Spain and Germany, which is what I wanted: a good career” - Xabi Alonso said recently in an interview after he announced his retirement from professional football. It’s hard to argue with that because he played for Liverpool, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.

Alonso started his career with his hometown club Real Sociedad before switching to England in 2004 to play for Rafa Benitez’s Liverpool. He established himself as one of the best midfielders in the league in no time and went on to famously win the UEFA Champions League in his debut season with the Reds and he was one of Liverpool’s scorers on that famous night in Istanbul.

His stay with Liverpool lasted five years after which he moved to Real Madrid. Alonso was already a Champions League winner with Liverpool and a Euro winner with Spain and had now established himself as one of the best central midfielders in the world.

The Basque-born player’s stay with Real Madrid was also equally successful as he went on to win his first league title and added another Champions League medal to his name. During this period, he also won the FIFA World Cup in 2010 and Euro 2012.

His final destination was Germany where he joined Bayern Munich and won three league titles in as many years.

During his illustrious career, he has played under some of the finest managers in the world including Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardiola, Carlo Ancelotti, Rafa Benitez, Vicente del Bosque, Luis Aragonés and Manuel Pellegrini.

Dirk Kuyt

Kuyt scored a hat-trick in his last game to help Feyenoord lift the league title

Many of the famous Dutch footballers are known for their flair and unbelievable technical ability. However, Dirk Kuyt doesn’t fit this bill because the Dutchman was famously known as a working class hero for his relentless running and tenacious gameplay. Don’t get me wrong, Kuyt was a good footballer but it was his hardworking nature that separated him from the crowd.

Kuyt played for Dutch sides Utrecht and Feyenoord before making a switch to England to play for Liverpool in 2006. In his first season with Liverpool, he went on to play the UEFA Champions League final and scored Liverpool’s only goal of the night in an eventual 2-1 defeat to AC Milan.

Although Kuyt arrived at Liverpool as a striker, he went on to play out wide or up front depending on where his team needed him. During Liverpool’s memorable 2008-09 season, Kuyt enjoyed one of his best seasons ever scoring 15 goals and formed a potent partnership with Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard.

He left Liverpool in 2012 to play for Fenerbahce with whom he won the Turkish League in 2013-14. He returned to Feyenoord in 2015 at the age of 34 and was soon named the club captain.

Feyenoord put up a title challenge this season and needed a win in their final game of the season to secure the title. Captain Kuyt stepped up and scored a hat-trick to seal a win and the club’s first title in 18 years. Two days later, he also announced his retirement from football.

Kuyt has played 798 games at club level in Netherlands, England and Turkey scoring 295 goals and was also capped 104 times by the Netherlands senior team for whom he scored 24 goals.

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Edited by Staff Editor
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