As the season draws to a close, it’s time to check out the top 8 players set to hang up their boots and head into retirement.
Nobody can play football forever, even the most elite players must call it a day at some point in their careers. The saying ‘all good things must come to an end’ sums it up perfectly.
But it doesn’t erase the sense of dread we feel every time an exceptional player approaches his end.
Last season we saw legends such as Petr Cech, Robin van Persie and Xavi Hernandez all retire from the beautiful game, with eight more great footballers set to follow in this summer.
8. Milan Baros
16 years after finishing top-scorer in the 2004 European championship for the Czech Republic, Baros announced plans to retire on July 3 following a series of persistent injury troubles,
The 38-year-old forward represented the likes of Liverpool, Olympique de Lyon and Galatasaray in a career that spanned over two decades.
Baros retired at boyhood club Baník Ostrava in his homeland.
7. Gelson Fernandes
The former Manchester City midfielder announced plans to retire back in May once the Bundesliga season had ended at the age of 33.
Fernandes also played for Saint-Etienne, Chievo, Leicester City, Udinese, Sporting CP, FC Sion, SC Freiburg and Rennes.
The 67-time Switzerland international had spent the last three seasons of his 15-year career in Germany playing for Eintracht Frankfurt.
6. Emre Belozoglu
Emre, who was part of the Turkey squad that finished a strong third-place in the 2002 World Cup, will retire at the end of July once his contract with Fenerbahce has ended.
The midfielder is better known for his spells at Inter Milan and Newcastle United between 2001 and 2008. He enjoyed mixed success at both clubs before joining Fenerbahce.
Emre played for the Yellow Canaries across three separate stints in between spells with Atletico Madrid and Istanbul Basaksehir.
5. Jeremy Mathieu
An unfortunate knee injury during a training session for Sporting CP forced Mathieu to retire in June.
The French defender had a solid start to his career following impressive spells with Sochaux and Valencia. He even spent three seasons at Barcelona before heading to Sporting in 2017.
While Mathieu’s career deserved a better ending, he can still retire with his head held high after winning 12 pieces of major silverware.
4. Aritz Aduriz
The 39-year-old striker proved that age is just a number by scoring a spectacular bicycle-kick against Barcelona last August, sealing a shock 1-0 opening day victory for Athletic Bilbao in La Liga.
Sadly, that was the only goal of Aduriz’s final season as hip injuries took their toll and forced an early retirement in May.
Although the former Spain international still retired with an impressive 219 goals and 63 assists in 573 club games for Athletic, Valencia, Mallorca and Real Valladolid.
3. Mario Gomez
The former Germany international retired last month after helping boyhood club Stuttgart win promotion back to the Bundesliga. He even scored in his last game against Darmstadt 98.
Gomez won three league titles during spells with Stuttgart (1x) and Bayern Munich (2x) over the course of a 17-year career, which also saw him score 31 goals in 78 appearances for Germany.
The one-time Champions League winner also had spells with Fiorentina, Wolfsburg and Besiktas.
2. Claudio Pizarro
The 41-year-old made history last season by becoming the Bundesliga’s oldest goalscorer in his fourth stint at Werder Bremen.
Despite a somewhat low-key finale to his career, Pizarro can take pride in the six league titles won during his stay in Germany. He also sits as the sixth-highest record scorer in Bundesliga history on 197 goals in 489 matches.
The former Peru international also had spells with Cologne and Chelsea.
1. Iker Casillas
Completing the list of players to retire is Iker Casillas.
The Real Madrid legend suffered an acute myocardial infarction on last year. Paramedics immediately submitted him to the hospital to have a heart catheterisation.
Despite recovering from the ordeal, Casillas never played football again. He spent this season acting as a liaison between the club and players before finally confirming his retirement in February.
Not the way everyone wants to see a legend of his calibre go out, but Casillas will always go down as one of the greatest Spanish goalkeepers in history with an impressive 24 major titles to his name, including a World Cup and three Champions Leagues.