As in any other career, albeit a bit younger than the retirement age in other professions, retirement beckons for footballers when they reach their mid-thirties. Here are the 3 players that have retired thus far this year.
1. Leighton Baines
Renowned for his creativity and set piece prowess, famously scoring two freekicks in one game against Westham in 2013, the 35 year old has hung his boots after 420 apperances for Everton. The decision was first announced by Everton gaffer Carlo Ancellotti after their match day 38 tie with relegated side Bournemouth in which the prolific left back came on in the second half for his ultimate appearance for the Toffees. The left back called it quits with 67 assists and 39 goals scored for club as well as a single goal and 30 caps collected for the Three Lions. Baines, a fan favorite during his 13 year tenure at Everton declined a 12 month contract extension from the club but could appear as coaching staff in the 20/21 season at Goodison park.
2. Essam El-Hadary
As the first African goalkeeper to save a world cup penalty against Saudi Arabia in 2018 and the oldest player to ever play in the world cup, El-Hadary was honoured when FIFA World Football Museum exihibited his gloves in 2019. Once described by former Ivory Coast and Chelsea striker Didier Drogba as the ‘best opponent ‘ he had ever faced, he is undoubtedly the greatest African goalkeeper of all time. The Egyptian legend announced his retirement at the age of 47, after 12 years at the world’s most successful club Al Ahly. He also made 159 appearances for the Pharaohs and has won a total of 26 trophies in his lengthy career.
3. Aristide Bancé
This Burkina Faso forward hung his boots after a successful footballing career in 22 different clubs around Africa, Europe and the Middle East. He retired while at CAF champions league hopeful side, Club Horoya in Guinea.
“I spoke to the club president and signified my intention to leave the club,” the 35-year-old forward posted on his Instagram account. The Burkinabé played 79 games for his country scoring 24 goals.
Other players likely to announce retirement this year are; Gianluigi Buffon (41, Juventus), Andres Iniesta (35, Vissel Kobe), Dani Alves (36, Sao Paolo), Wayne Rooney (34, Derby), Fabio Quagliarella (39, Sampdoria), Joao Miranda (35, Jiangsu Suning) and David Silva (Now a free agent).