The remarkable XI of players who retired in 2019, including Xavi and Arjen Robben

  • Kobe Tong

Believe it or not, 2019 is slowly drawing to a close.

Time flies when you’re having fun and there have been plenty of memorable moments in the world of football, but there have also been some tough goodbyes.

With every year in the sport, it’s inevitable that a number of legendary players will hang up their boots and it feels as though 2019 has been particularly ruthless.

You’ve got to stand back and applaud these star men as they retire, but it’s always difficult to swallow when you’ve watched them produce brilliance for a decade or more.

And bearing that in mind, ESPN have decided to draw up a starting XI from players who retired in 2019 and it’s so incredible that players like Dimitar Berbatov and Robin van Persie miss out.

GK – Petr Cech

One of the greatest Premier League goalkeepers in history, there’s no better candidate between the sticks assuming Cech can get some time off from his new ice-hockey side, Guildford Phoenix.

RB – Patrice Evra

Sure, Evra has been moved to the other side of the back four, but the former Manchester United man would still do a brilliant job down the right flank.

CB – Andrea Barzagli

Barzagli is the absolute personification of reliability and was still competing with the world’s best defenders when he called it a day at Juventus this year.

CB – Juan

In one of the more low-key retirements of the year, Juan would be an absolute rock at the back for the retired XI and would hope to recreate his remarkable form from the AS Roma days. 

LB – Ashley Cole

This must have been the easiest choice in the entire team because, although Cole tapered off during the last half-decade of his career, the Englishman was the world’s best left-back in his prime.

RM – Arjen Robben

RIP one of the greatest left foots in the sport’s history. We’re inclined to think the winger could still do a job at some of Europe’s biggest clubs and he was never far away from a moment of magic.

CM – Bastian Schweinsteiger

We haven’t seen the best of the German for quite some time, but Schweinsteiger deserves his place in the team after a decade of dominance at Bayern Munich. Oh, and he also won the World Cup.

CM – Xavi

Speaking of World Cup winners, it would be a footballing scandal to omit Xavi from this collection of decorated retirees and it feels scandalous that the Spaniard never won the Ballon d’Or.

LM – Wesley Sneijder

And speaking of potential Ballon d’Or winners, you could argue that Sneijder is worthy of his place based on that memorable 2010 alone where he inspired Inter Milan to the treble.

ST – Samuel Eto’o

An absolutely lethal goal-scorer whether he was wearing the jerseys of Cameroon, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Chelsea or Inter Milan. We’ll forget about the Everton spell.

ST – Fernando Torres

El Nino might not have been at the top of his game for long, but the World Cup winner was once the sport’s best striker and hoovered up a number of Golden Boots with Spain.

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