Retirement is one of the hardest things to do as a footballer or sportsman. Leaving what you love doing and have done for a good number of years can be tough.
Players often get mixed feelings about leaving the game, but most times, they have to listen to their bodies in deciding on the best time to retire.
Sometimes, players are forced to retire as a result of injuries or their health conditions, such as with Sergio Aguero. Other times, their age is the major deciding factor in their decision to retire.
Controversial Argentine cult hero and striker Carlos Tevez has recently treaded the path to retirement as he chose to hang up his boots after an illustrious career.
The former Manchester City man has joined a number of other top stars of the past decade in choosing to retire from active football.
Here is a list of five prominent footballers who called it a day on their career this year.
5. Mousa Dembele
Belgian midfielder Mousa Dembele announced his decision to retire from active football in February 2022 following a stint in the Chinese Super League.
The 34-year-old central midfielder cited his wish to spend more time with his family as his reason for taking the decision.
At his prime, Dembele was one of the world’s best central midfielders, with very few players able to run the game in the box-to-box role like he could.
The former Tottenham Hotspur man was a joy to watch in full flight as he glided past players with ease.
He represented Willem II, AZ Alkmaar, Fulham, and Tottenham Hotspur between 2005 and 2019. This was before completing a move to Guangzhou City where he spent the final three years of his career.
Dembele was an integral member of Belgium’s golden generation, making 82 appearances for the country between 2006 and 2018.
He retired from international football shortly after helping the Red Devils claim a third-place finish at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
4. Laurent Koscielny
Former Arsenal captain Laurent Koscielny has decided to hang up his boots and draw the curtain on his professional career after 18 years of playing at a high level.
The 37-year-old central defender chose to retire after spending time in the French Ligue 1 with Girondins de Bordeaux. He announced his decision to retire in March 2022.
Koscielny made his professional bow in 2004 for EA Guingamp before proceeding to Lorient five years later. After only one year with Lorient, he was snapped up by Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal in 2010.
The Frenchman quickly asserted himself as one of the best central defenders in the Premier League. He spent nine years with Arsenal before moving back to France with Bordeaux. Koscielny won the FA Cup in 2014, 2015, and 2017 as an Arsenal player.
Koscielny featured 51 times for the French national team. He was part of the squads for the 2014 FIFA World Cup and Euro 2016. He narrowly missed out on a place in the 2018 FIFA World Cup due to an injury he suffered in the months leading up to the tournament, which France won.
3. Jermain Defoe
Former Tottenham Hotspur and England striker Jermain Defoe has earned the right to refer to himself as a Premier League great.
The Englishman announced his retirement from professional football in March 2022 shortly after he returned to play for Sunderland.
Defoe spent the vast majority of his career playing in England, where he represented clubs such as Portsmouth, Sunderland, Bournemouth, West Ham United, and Tottenham Hotspur.
The 39-year-old was one of the Premier League’s most prolific strikers in his time in the league, scoring 163 goals in 496 appearances.
He played in the MLS for Toronto FC and played for Scottish side Rangers, where he won the league title in 2021. He was part of the last Tottenham side to win a trophy in 2008.
Defoe was a regular for the Three Lions, for whom he made 57 appearances and scored 20 goals.
He featured in the 2010 FIFA World Cup, as well as Euro 2012. He retired from international football in 2017 after a spell out of the side.
2. Aleksandar Kolarov
Blessed with tremendous shot power and accuracy from dead balls, Aleksandar Kolarov would be remembered for these qualities by many of his fans.
The Serbian defender announced his retirement from professional football in June 2022 after a spell with Inter Milan in Serie A.
Kolarov enjoyed a successful career playing for some of Europe’s best sides, including Lazio, Manchester City, and AS Roma. The left-back won the Coppa Italia with Lazio before moving to Manchester City in 2010.
The 37-year-old made 12 appearances for the Citizens as they won their first Premier League title, qualifying him for a winner’s medal.
He won the league once more and the FA Cup and League Cup once before leaving the club in 2017.
He played for AS Roma and Inter Milan in the subsequent years, winning the Scudetto and Coppa Italia with the latter.
Kolarov featured 94 times for the Serbian national team, representing them in the 2010 and 2018 FIFA World Cups. He captained his country to the mundial in 2018.
1. Carlos Tevez
Rosario Central manager Carlos Tevez has taken up a managerial position in his native Argentina just weeks after hanging up his boots. The former Manchester City and Manchester United striker retired in June 2022 after representing Boca Juniors.
Tevez featured for Corinthians, West Ham United, Manchester United, Manchester City, Juventus, Shanghai Shenhua, and Boca Juniors in his career.
The striker won titles with all the clubs he represented bar West Ham. He won the UEFA Champions League and Copa Libertadores, among others.
Tevez represented the Argentine national team for 11 years between 2004 and 2015. He scored 13 goals in 76 appearances for La Albiceleste and won Olympic gold in 2004 with his country.