It was a thrilling year filled with exciting football action, but it will also be the year for many Football Legends to retire from the beautiful game of Football. Some of the biggest names in the game said their goodbyes to their fans and admirers in the year 2014. We pick out the top 5 legends of the game who said their final goodbyes to the game of football in the year 2014.
5. Javier Zanetti: (Inter Milan and Argentina)
If any player is symbolic for consistency and longevity, it has to be Javier Zanetti. The former Argentina and Inter Milan defender was touted as being too small to play the game in his early days. He had to serve as a milk delivery boy, whose day started at 4 AM, but still he never left the love for the game and here he is establishing his name among the legends of this game that we all love.
No one could have thought back in 1995 when Zanetti joined Inter Milan that he will go on to play 847 games for Inter Milan. Needless to say it is, and probably will remain a club record in terms of appearances at Inter Milan for years to come. Javier Zanetti was equally effective for his national side making 145 appearances for Argentina, which again is an international record for Argentina.
Javier Zanetti called it time on his glittering playing career at the end of 2013-14 campaign. Zanetti has never let his achievements get to him and much like his never changing short haircut, Zanetti has played the game in the same beautiful and graceful manner. Zanetti’s retirement from the game was moaned by all sets of the fans and that really is the biggest achievement for Zanetti’s career.
Javier Zanetti was not someone to focus on personal achievements but Zanetti’s 5 SERIE A TITLES, 4 COPPA ITALIA, 1 CHAMPIONS LEAGUE, 1 UEFA CUP and 1 FIFA CLUB WORLD CUP would do a proper justice to the time Zanetti has given to the game of football. Given all these things it should not be a surprise to see Javier Zanetti on our list of Top 5 Legends to have retired in 2014.
4. Carles Puyol (Spain and Barcelona)
If ever you wanted to take a man with you to war, it would be Carles Puyol. If Puyol is on your side, he will take on the entire army for you on his own. Carles Puyol will be many people’s top pick for the best central defender in recent years. Puyol’s career with Barcelona and Spanish national side is an example for modern generation’s players to follow.
In Puyol’s final press conference, he truly showed how much he loved Barcelona and what it meant for him to be retiring at the club where he started his career as a young boy. Puyol in last ever press conference was heard saying:
‘I want to be remembered as someone who did everything for Barca and for football.
‘I’ll tell my daughter that I was lucky to play at the best club in the world.’
‘This is a very difficult moment for me and I’m very emotional but I will try to enjoy it,’ he said.
‘I am a man of few words but I will try and explain how I’m feeling.
‘As I said a few months ago, my knee is still troubling me and my time at Barca will end from June 30.
‘We’ve tried to find a solution but that’s not been possible. But I want to thank everyone at the club. I can now fight my injury without the pressure of playing.
‘I’ve done what I’ve always wanted to do and been very happy. I’ve lived the dream of thousands of children and I’m privileged.
Carles Puyol was a constant figure at Barcelona’s defense for over 15 seasons winning 21 titles in total, which saw 6 LA LIGA TITLES, 3 CHAMPIONS LEAGUE and 1 FIFA CLUB WORLD CUP. Puyol’s later part of the career was hampered by injuries and he was not a regular for Barcelona as much he would have wanted to be.
Puyol was capped for exactly 100 times for his national side Spain. Puyol retired from Barcelona after the 2013-14 season which saw Barcelona narrowly missing out on La Liga title to Atletico Madrid. Puyol squashed any rumours of him getting in to coaching, he said,
“I have no desires of getting in to coaching. I am happy with my career at Barcelona, I came here alone as a young boy now I am leaving with a family”.
Puyol is one of the modern day warriors of the game and its is no surprise that he makes the list of our Top 5 Legends retiring in 2014.
3. Clarence Seedorf (Ajax, AC Milan and Real Madrid)
This Dutch midfield maestro is the only man to have won the UEFA Champions League with three different clubs – Ajax, Real Madrid and AC Milan. Seedorf left AC Milan to spend his last two seasons at Brazilian Club Botafogo and Seedorf announced his retirement from the game of football through the media in Brazil.
Clarence Seedorf had a glittering career which spanned for over 22 years, where he played 656 club games for 6 different clubs scoring 110 goals. His International team Netherlands saw Seedorf being capped for 87 games.
In a career of 22 years, Seedorf won 21 major titles in Club football, most noticeable is his 3 Champions League winners medals with three different clubs. He will be most remembered for his amazing “LONG DISTANCE SHOOTING”, when Seedorf struck the ball from 30-40 yards, keepers just prayed that it did not end up in the top corner of the Goal. With Seedorf retiring, he features in our Top 5 legends retiring in 2014.
2. Thierry Henry (Arsenal, Barcelona, NY Red Bulls and France)
Arguably Thierry Henry is the ever striker to have played in the Premier League. Henry’s stint with Arsenal are still remembered as some of the best displays of an individual shining at the highest level of his potential. After a more than successful career over the period of 20 years, Theirry Henry has decided to say goodbye to the game of football.
He took to the social media to not only explain his decision to retire but to declare his next venture in life. Theirry Henry will be teaming up with Sky Sports to be a Football Pundit. Henry wrote,
“After 20 years in the game I have decided to retire from professional football,” Henry wrote.
“It has been an incredible journey and I would like to thank all the fans, team mates and individuals involved with AS Monaco, Juventus, Arsenal FC, FC Barcelona, the New York Red Bulls and of course the French National Team that have made my time in the game so special.
“It is now time for a different career path and I am pleased to say that I will be returning to London and joining Sky Sports. I will hopefully share some of the insights, observations and experiences I have learnt over the years with you guys.
Theirry Henry is a player, who has won it all what there is to be won for a professional football player. FIFA WORLD CUP, UEFA EURO CUP, UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE, League Titles in England (Premier League) and Spain (La Liga), we might not see a more decorated player than Theirry Henry on our lifetime.
We wish Henry all th every best for his next move in his life and yes by the way, do not forget to catch Henry making his Hollywood debut in the movie Entourage.
1. Ryan Giggs (Manchester United and Wales)
If a man of Henry’s calibre is at number two, it did have a reason and the reason was Ryan Giggs. The former Manchester United great announced his decision to retire from the game after the 2013-14 season but no one believed how his last season as a player/coach ended.
Ryan Giggs was made the first team coach under newly appointed Manager David Moyes and Giggs was taking the responsibility of both as a player and a coach. The season was filled with turmoil and despair for all the United fans and Ryan Giggs himself.
After 11 months of bad results, Manchester United sacked David Moyes as the first team manager and up stepped Ryan Giggs to lead his boyhood club as the Club’s new manager, where he started playing at the age of 12.
Seeing Giggs as the Manchester United manager was like seeing a kid becoming the principle of the school where he studied once. Giggs had an amazing career with Manchester United. A career spanning over 23 years saw him win 13 PREMIER LEAGUE titles, 4 FA CUPS and 2 CHAMPIONS LEAGUE.
More than the titles though, it was the manner in which Giggs played his entire professional career must be an example for the young players coming through the ranks. Retirement form the game as a player has not kept Giggs away from Manchester United, he is currently working under Louis Van Gaal as Manchester United’s first team coach and all the signs are there that one day Giggs will become Manchester United’s manager.
With this we wrap Sportzwiki’s Top 5 Legends to retire in 2014. Honorable mentions to Juninho & Eric Abidal who could not make our list but are worth a mention for their contribution to the game of football.
Quotes Credits: Dailymail.co.uk, arsenal.com,eurosport.com
Image credits: teamtalk.com, dailymail.com, 101greatgoal.com