Some players stay in place too long. Others leave too early. The editors of 90min France offer you a list of 20 footballers who retired too early. It sounds simple enough, but as you will see, retirement isn’t always what it seems.
†The emperorbecame a sensation in Italy, first at Parma and then at Inter Milan, where he won four league titles in Serie A. He also scored 27 goals in 48 appearances for Brazil, including a crucial one in the 2004 Copa América final against Argentina.
However, Adriano’s career was cut short by injuries and rumors that the player’s life had spiraled out of control due to his alcoholism, weight gain and inability to stay away from the Brazilian favelas where he grew up. With a few freelancers in Brazil unsuccessfully, Adriano retired in 2014 at the age of 32.
German football’s most famous twins, Lars and Sven Bender, started their careers together in 1860 Munich before they both left the club in 2009.
They met again at Bayer Leverkusen in 2017, but at the same time decided to hang up their shoes after a series of injuries.
In their last game against Borussia Dortmund in May 2021, Sven captained Leverkusen and Lars came off the bench to score a late penalty.
The Northern Irish legend has retired from football under the age of 30. He was showbiz’s first footballer and after defrauding Old Trafford as one of the best footballers of his generation, he made a comeback but never reached the heights he had before. Pele even called him the best player in the world. Some of the many clubs he went on to visit include Fulham, Bournemouth, Hibernian and many more around the world, especially in the United States.
Shortly before his 31st birthday, the Frenchman retired when he was at the highest level. His trainer Sir Alex Ferguson explained at the time: “Eric fundamentally believes that he must rise to the top. Now that he’s gone, I don’t feel disappointed. There are no reproaches in my heartThe charismatic striker spent five years at Old Trafford but left fans with lasting memories and went down in history as one of the greatest players to ever wear the shirt. Red Devils†
Often regarded by many as one of the greatest French defensive midfielders of all time, Deschamps led his side to victory in the 1998 World Cup. Best known for his time at Juventus, Deschamps has also played for clubs such as Chelsea, Marseille and the Spanish club Valencia. †
However, Deschamps did something completely unpredictable when he announced his retirement in 2001 at the age of 32. For some, the reason was due to injuries, and for many speculators it was the simple fact that he had already made up his mind.
Benedikt Höwedes, a real pillar of the German squad during his world title he won in Brazil in 2014, has announced his retirement in 2020. The former emblematic player of Schalke 04 will retire at the age of 32 to dedicate more to his life. †
Kluivert announced his arrival on the European front by scoring the winning goal for Ajax in the 1995 Champions League final against AC Milan.
Two years later, after scoring 39 goals in 70 league appearances for Ajax, he left for Milan, but only stayed in Italy for a year before signing with FC Barcelona.
He then went through Valencia, PSV Eindhoven and Lille before ending his career in 2008 at the age of 32.
Philipp Lahm, the legend of Bayern Munich and Germany, has ended his career on his own terms at the age of 33, confirming his intention to retire in the 2016/17 season and just three days after the reaching the milestone of 500 games for Bayern.
Lahm finished as champions while Bayern secured a fifth consecutive Bundesliga title with a whopping 25 points win. Three years earlier, Lahm had already withdrawn from international football at an all-time high, just five days after winning the World Cup.
The man with 40 selections for the Colombian national team hung up his crampons in 2020 at the age of 33. Author of 92 goals in 133 matches with Porto, he was transferred to Atletico Madrid in 2015 for €35 million. Total flop, he went into exile in China before returning to Portugal at the Portimonense club.
Hidetoshi Nakata retired before he was 30, but he will go down in history as one of the greatest Asian footballers of all time.
At the 1998 World Cup, Nakata stood out despite Japan not living up to his potential. After that, he played two more World Cups. He decided to quit football after losing his love for it. He reportedly said that the game had become too commercial and that players were playing for money, not for fun.
Great hopes for French football, Samir Nasri could have done everything better. A key player at Arsenal and Manchester City, the 41 capped player retired at the age of 33. After a convincing season in Seville under Sampaoli’s command, he will lose himself in Turkey and play 14 games in two years at West Ham and Anderlecht. He later states that his suspension was one of the triggers that led him to retire.
The Italian international of Argentine descent has put an end to his career to dedicate himself to music. The controversial striker, a Southampton flop, was sacked by Boca Juniors earlier this year after smoking in the dressing room after a Copa Libertadores quarter-final.
De Chievo offered him a lifeline, but he chose to focus on his band and pursue his rock and roll lifestyle. Osvaldo retired at the age of 30.
He started in Division 1 on 25 August 1978 at the Parc des Princes when he was only 15 years old and went into halftime against PSG in place of the injured Dominique Rocheteau. So very high expectations are placed on this player when he has just joined the “greens†
At just 26 years old and in all 10 years as a professional,”pageDecides to retire, while continuing to play for small clubs in lower divisions.
Michel Platini is recently remembered for the difficult times he went through as a former UEFA president, but he was arguably the best player in the world during his career, winning three Ballons d’Or and playing for Juventus and the French national team.
The Frenchman’s decision to retire at 32 surprised many as he still had a lot to offer on the pitch.
Former Dutch midfielder Davy Propper announced his retirement from football in January 2022, explaining that he had lost his love for the game during his recent spell in England at Brighton and was no longer feeling “comfortable in football culture“The episode of the pandemic and isolation favored his choice to retire at age 30.
Frank Rijkaard is considered one of the greatest players of his generation and was known for his versatility and leadership on the pitch. A dynamic presence for clubs such as Ajax, AC Milan and the Netherlands, with whom he won numerous awards during his career.
Rijkaard is undoubtedly one of the best Dutch players, but he retired very early, at the age of 32, to retrain as a coach.
A talented goalkeeper who sparked interest after his starring role in the 1998 World Cup with Argentina, the goalkeeper was offside for a while. Roa, a Seventh-day Adventist, hung up on his gloves and settled on a farm in his homeland, awaiting the arrival of four horsemen, believing that the end of the world would come at the end of the century. He soon returned to the field with his old club Mallorca, with the world still intact.
An exemplary goalkeeper at Saint-Étienne, Ruffier was cold with his management and his coach Claude Puel, who pushed him to the bench and then to reserve as the goalkeeper did not want to be replaced. Ruffier will be permanently sacked in January 2021 if his contract is terminated by the club. Shortly after, he retired at the age of 33.
Former Bayern Munich and Germany striker Sandro Wagner surprisingly hung up his shoes at the age of 32.
After leaving Bavaria in 2019, he spent the last year and a half in China with Tianjin TEDA, but ended his contract in 2020 after playing in 26 games and scoring 12 goals.
Zinedine Zidane retired in 2006, aged 34, just after the famous headbutt.
It’s a terrible way to leave the best French footballer of his generation. Zidane should have returned for another season just to do it right.
Zidane still won the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 with France, the Ballon d’Or in 1998 and the FIFA World Player of the Year award three times.