For a host of different reasons, there are some ex-footballers who retired arguably a little too early.
Some are forced to hang up their boots due to injuries or health problems while others simply decide they’ve had enough and call it quits.
Transfermarkt have published an XI of footballers with the highest market values for their respective positions on the day they retired. Let’s take a closer look…
Goalkeeper: Oliver Kahn (€4.5 million)
One of the greatest goalkeepers of his generation, Kahn retired aged 38 in 2008.
Could the former Germany international have gone on for one or two more seasons? Possibly, In the 2007-08 campaign, Kahn made 42 appearances for Bayern Munich in all competitions.
Defender: Willy Sagnol (€9.5 million)
Another former Bayern Munich player, Willy Sagnol was forced to retire in 2009 aged just 31 after failing to recover from an Achilles tendon injury.
“The evidence is there – it’s an injury which won’t heal,” the ex-France international said at the time. “Surgery is not possible. The only solution is to stop.”
Defender: Martin Hinteregger (€9 million)
Martin Hinteregger recently announced his shock retirement at the age of just 29.
Part of the Eintracht Frankfurt team that won the 2021-22 Europa League, the Austrian said: “Last autumn I’d already started to think about retiring at the end of the season. I was in a difficult period on the pitch: my performances were shaky.
“My improvement in the spring and our joint successes in the Europa League made me even more motivated to bow out with a great sporting success.
“That’s why I enjoyed the Europa League victory so much, because I already knew it would be my last big victory celebration with the fantastic fans in this city, which has become my second home.”
Defender: Philipp Lahm (€11 million)
Philipp Lahm, one of German football’s most important players, announced his retirement in 2017 aged 33.
“I’m going to stop playing football at the end of the season,” the full-back, who spent the vast majority of his career with Bayern Munich, said at the time.
“More than a year ago I started checking and questioning myself from day to day and week to week. I’m certain I’ll maintain peak form through to the end of the season. I can manage that until the end of the campaign, but not beyond it.”
Midfielder: Ryan Mason (€7 million)
Ryan Mason was sadly forced to retire aged just 26 in February 2018 as a result of the fractured skill he suffered against Chelsea the previous year.
Conceding he was “lucky to be alive” following his clash of heads with Gary Cahill, the midfielder retired following guidance from numerous world-renowned neurologists and neuro surgeons.
He briefly managed Tottenham on an interim basis in 2021.
Midfielder: Davy Propper (€6 million)
Former Brighton midfielder Davy Propper announced his retirement aged 30 in January 2022, admitting he “doesn’t feel comfortable in the world of football”.
The Dutchman, whose PSV contract was terminated by mutual consent with 18 months left, said: “When I was abroad, I gradually lost the love for the game.
“It was difficult for me to observe the discipline needed to perform at my best and have my life ruled by a hectic football schedule.
“I’m grateful the club (PSV) has made me feel welcome. I had hoped to rediscover the joy in playing football but it was not to be as I don’t feel comfortable in the world of football. I don’t want to be part of it any longer.
“I made the final decision to call time on my playing career before Christmas and it feels like a relief. That’s why I know I’ve made the right choice.”
Midfielder: Zinedine Zidane (€12.5 million)
Not many players could be sent off in a World Cup final and still win the best player of the tournament award. But Zinedine Zidane did just that in 2006.
In his final game in professional football, the 2006 World Cup final, the Frenchman beat Italy’s Gianluigi Buffon with a remarkable Panenka penalty and later received the most infamous red card in football history for a headbutt on Marco Materazzi.
There’s no doubt that Zidane, 34 when he called it a day, could have played on for at least one or two more years. And it’s a shame he didn’t, really, because to bow out in disgrace was the saddest ending for a player who gave joy to so many football fans across the world.
Winger: Luis Figo (€7 million)
Zidane’s former Real Madrid teammate Luis Figo was 36 when he announced his retirement in 2009.
The Portuguese winger ended his career following a four-year spell with Inter Milan, who won the treble under Jose Mourinho the following season.
Winger: Pavel Nedved (€9 million)
Another quality footballer who retired in 2009 was Pavel Nedved.
“I have decided not to accept any of the offers I received in recent weeks, and finally end my career,” the Czech star, 37 at the time, said after his Juventus spell ended. “I will now dedicate my time to my family, wife, and children.
“I would like to thank the fans for all the support they showed me throughout my career.”
Striker: Sergio Aguero (€15 million)
Legendary forward Sergio Aguero was sadly forced to quit football aged 33 in December 2021 due to a heart condition.
The Argentine had only been at Barcelona for a couple of months when the problem was detected.
“Retiring under these circumstances is difficult,” Aguero conceded, “but life comes first – I’ve known that from the start.”
Striker: Dean Ashton (€8.5 million)
Dean Ashton was a good Premier League striker who was capped by England in 2008.
Unfortunately, though, the former West Ham star retired one year later – aged just 26 – after failing to recover from an injury he suffered while on England duty in August 2006 following a training ground tackle by Shaun Wright-Phillips.
Who knows what he’d have achieved had he stayed fit.
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