10 Footballers Who Should Retire
Advances in medical science and physiotherapy continue to allow footballers to recover from injuries faster and more completely. Careers can last longer and players can put more wear and tear on their bodies.
But no one beats Father Time. Some players can evade his grasp for a while, but eventually every career will run its course, no matter how unlikely that might sometimes seem.
Here are 10 players for whom the bell will toll very soon.
Friedel, who will turn 43 exactly a week after the conclusion of the Premier League season, would probably still be extending his record 310 consecutive League appearances if Hugo Lloris had not wrested the starting spot away from him.
But Lloris is entering the prime of his career, and Friedel, though still capable of performing at a high level, has been relegated to the secondary status that older goalkeepers often are.
He will probably never get the opportunity to be the main man between the posts at any club anymore, and his skills can only deteriorate (though they never seem to do so). This should probably be the last season in a remarkable career.
One cannot help but feel for Abou Diaby on an emotional level, regardless of one's preferred club.
He obviously possesses an abundance of talent, and an extremely rare combination at that: Height, power, positional versatility and superb technical ability.
Yet Diaby's career has been ravaged by injuries since Sunderland's Dan Smith mangled his ankle seven years ago. He has suffered innumerable maladies since, and has had surgery on the ankle multiple times. Seemingly every time he begins to build fitness and establish himself in Arsenal's first team, his body fails him.
Perhaps it's time for Diaby to just call it a career.
Oh, Emile Heskey. Hardly any footballer has been the subject of such constant and universal derision and slander in the last decade.
He was never as bad as critics often said; in fact, he is quite a powerful target man and he had, in his prime, a surprising amount of pace.
Yet was never really good at that whole bit about kicking the ball into the goal, which is somewhat important for a striker. He is still playing for Newcastle Jets, and has contributed nine goals in 24 A-League appearances.
That's considerably better than his last stint at Aston Villa during which he recorded the same number of goals in 92 Premier League appearances.
Alessandro Del Piero
After 19 years with Juventus, during which he racked up 513 appearances in Serie A and scored 289 goals, Del Piero has moved all the way to Australia to become captain of Sydney FC.
Del Piero, who just turned 39, is still banging in the goals, although in a division decidedly inferior to Serie A. Since his free transfer, he has amassed 16 goals in 28 A-League appearances.
That's quite a healthy total, but strikers often do not play to such an age. Del Piero would be wise to leave the game while still a very respectable player at a decent level of competition.
Like Friedel, Schwarzer is rapidly nearing the end of an illustrious career. Like Friedel, he has been relegated to second-string by his club.
Unlike Friedel, though, Schwarzer was signed specifically to be a backup. Consequently, he has not once appeared in the Premier League this season after being a mainstay at Fulham, and has only received two opportunities in the Capital One Cup.
He recently retired from the Australian national team after a 20-year career that saw him receive over 100 caps. At 41 years old his club career is probably in its very last days.
When you are 36 and playing for a Qatari football club, you must know the end is very near.
Such is the case of Raul, whose 18-year spell at the apex of European football ended in 2012 when his contact with Schalke 04 expired.
His accomplishments are remarkable, and he is surely enjoying raking in copious amounts of money playing in an oil-rich nation, but there comes a point when a player must accept that his good days are long past.
Raul will probably come to that conclusion when he reconciles himself with giving up his mighty income.
One of the many reasons Andrey Arshavin's time at Arsenal ended a failure was his rapidly deteriorating physical condition.
Over time, he seemed progressively less fit, and less able to cope with the physical rigor of the Premier League.
Not that I don't think we're a bit of a shambles but Arshavin's belly is not that of a professional athlete.— arseblog (@arseblog) February 24, 2012
Arshavin moved to his first club, Zenit St. Petersburg, on loan during his time with Arsenal and after his contract expired at the end of last season. The story has not gotten better: a combined five goals in 24 appearances.
How many injuries will be too many for Puyol?
In recent years, Puyol has been beset by a remarkable number of severe injuries—often one right after the other.
In his first game after recovering from an injured knee ligament in 2012, Puyol was knocked out of action for two months when he dislocated his elbow. This year, he underwent surgery on his knee—his sixth as a professional footballer—and contemplated retirement, according to FIFA.com.
Though his contract extends until 2016, when he would be 38, Puyol should preserve his body and call time on his incredibly successful career sooner.
The above picture shows Giggs chasing Arsenal's Serge Gnabry in Manchester United's last match. Here's an interesting fact for you: Giggs had made 197 appearances for United before Gnabry was even born.
That is quite simply astonishing. It is even more so when one considers that 40 of those appearances came in the First Division (via stretfordend.co.uk), which existed before the Barclays Premier League was even created and was dissolved in 1992.
One could fill pages with unbelievable statistics about Giggs' career, which is now in its 24th season.
Though he still plays at a high level, his appointment to the role of player-coach this season reflects that he is near calling it quits. Like former New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, Giggs would be wise to bow out while he still possesses much of his talent.
It is a shame that most English-speaking writers focus on Giggs and not Zanetti. Both are extraordinary in their own right, but Zanetti's 945 career club appearances and 145 caps for Argentina deserve a bit more mention.
"Pupi," as he is affectionately known by Inter Milan supporters, has been the beating heart of the club for 18 years. Yet he was not expected to return for this, his 14th season as captain.
As James Horncastle wrote for ESPN FC, the Achilles tendon rupture Zanetti suffered has ended the careers of significantly younger players. What was the chance of a 40-year-old making a full recovery and returning to his previous level?
Due to his indomitable spirit and boundless work ethic, Il Capitano has returned. But even this seemingly ageless marvel must succumb to age at some point.
Zanetti might as well retire at the level he has maintained for two decades, while proving that he is strong enough to return from a career-threatening injury.