5 football players who retired early

Andre Schurrle, FIFA World Cup winner with Germany in 2014, has confirmed his retirement at the age of 29. As of July 2020, his contract at Borussia Dortmund was mutually terminated a year early, although he had been on a loan spell with Spartak Moscow last season. Schurrle said the decision to retire “has long been maturing in me”. A footballers career is short and can be extremely lucrative, which is why it is rare for a player to join the list of retired players willingly at such a young age. We decided to take a look at five more football players who retired early.


5 football players who retired early


Éric Cantona

The Frenchman was a huge part of Man United’s success in the 90s and helped them to win their first league title in 26 years. But, in a surprise move in 1997, Cantona announced his sudden retirement at the age of 30. The United captain said the following about his early retirement: “I have played professional football for 13 years, which is a long time. I now wish to do other things. I always planned to retire when I was at the top and at Manchester United, I have reached the pinnacle of my career.” Cantona is still a legend and one of the most famous football players who retired early.


Patrick Kluivert

Patrick Kluivert made his name as a football player at an early age. As an 18-year-old in 1995, he scored the winning goal in the Champions League final with Ajax – the last time Ajax won the tournament. After two more seasons with Ajax and one season at AC Milan, he went to Barcelona where he enjoyed his most successful spell, scoring 90 goals in 182 appearances, though only winning La Liga once. The former Dutch international finished his career in the Ligue 1 and decided to retire at the age of 31 after moves to Valencia, PSV Eindhoven and Lille were not very prolific.


Marco van Basten

The retirement of Marco van Basten came very prematurely with the Dutch great playing his last game at only 28 years of age on the 17th of August 1995. The day is still remembered as one of the saddest in AC Milan’s history as they said farewell to one of their greatest ever players. Van Basten had been out for two seasons and a half and, he was no longer able to play because of the recurring ankle problem.

The legendary player made a farewell appearance to thank the AC Milan fans at San Siro, with an emotional Milan coach Fabio Capello breaking down in tears on the bench. After retiring in his 20s, van Basten enjoyed reasonable success as a football manager in the Dutch Eredivisie and the Netherlands national team.


David Bentley

In 2014, David Bentley announced that he had retired early from professional football at the age of 29. The 7-time England international had been without a club for over a year and, he broke down in tears on live television as he announced his retirement from football and stated in the interview that he had fallen out of love with football. Bentley called the modern game “robotic” due to the influence of social media and money on football players, as well as “predictable and a bit too calculated”. The former Arsenal, Tottenham, Norwich and Blackburn midfielder then went on to move to Marbella, Spain where he became the co-owner of a restaurant and an investor in beach clubs.


George Best

The Northern Irish football player retired from professional football for the first time at the age of 26. He had been the top scorer at Manchester United for the third consecutive season and won the league title twice, the European Cup once and the Ballon d’Or. Manchester United manager Tommy Docherty persuaded him to come back but, in 1974, he retired for good after making 470 appearances with Man United in total.

Following his departure from United, the flamboyant player went on to play in various smaller clubs in Scotland, Australia, the United States, Ireland and South Africa over the next decade, but never at the same level as at United. George Best died at the age of 59 but remains one of the greatest football players of all-time.



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