Top 14 footballers who’ve retired in 2023: Hazard, Ibrahimovic and more

Top 14 footballers who’ve retired in 2023, as we compose a list including the latest names like Eden Hazard, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and many more who have ended their decorated careers.

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2023 has been the year of farewell in football. From legendaries like Ibrahimovic and Gianluigi Buffon to the surprising next-big-thing Hazard or Gareth Bale, all have decided to hang up their boots in 2023.

We’ve looked at 14 notable names and familiar faces who have decided to hang up their boots in 2023.

Eden Hazard

Hazard is inarguably one of the best players this decade, who was supposed to be in the same temple with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

According to Jose Mourinho, he was once very close to being the GOAT’s heir. Hazard won everything possible during his prime at club levels, from Ligue 1 to the Premier League, Europa League, and Champions League, while leading his country to the World Cup 2018’s third place.

Eden Hazard retires at 32
Top 14 footballers who’ve retired in 2023: Hazard

Too bad for the Belgian, as his physical status did not allow him to continue his career and forced him to hang his boots at 32.

Eden Hazard announced his retirement from professional football.

“You must listen to yourself and say stop at the right time.”

“After 16 years and more than 700 matches played, I have decided to end my career as a professional footballer.”

“I was able to realise my dream, I have played and had fun on many pitches around the world.”

“During my career I was lucky to meet great managers, coaches and teammates — thank you to everyone for these great times, I will miss you all.”

Theo Walcott

“I’m officially going to be hanging up my boots. It’s very scary, I can’t lie,” said Walcott after announcing his retirement in August 2023 at 34.

“It’s scary because football’s all I’ve known from the age of 16 or even younger. I want to try new things I never experienced as a kid – I missed out on a lot.

“I just feel like I want to experience life – things [usually] revolve around football for me.”

Gianluigi Buffon

Former Italy goalkeeper and World Cup winner Buffon retired from football aged 45.

He began his career at Parma’s academy and made his Serie A debut for the club in November 1995 before joining Juventus in 2001 in a £32.6million deal – a world record for a goalkeeper.

Buffon spent most of his career in Turin despite a stint at PSG in 2018-19. He made a record 657 appearances in the Italian top flight and is the most-capped goalkeeper of all time with 176 appearances for Italy.

One of the greatest goalkeepers of all time.

Mesut Ozil

The German midfielder was one of his generation’s greatest playmakers, and it’s a shame to see him hanging up his boots. Ozil is collectively considered an all-time great, yet it still feels like he could have achieved more.

Surprisingly enough, Ozil only won one league title throughout his career, but that shouldn’t diminish the genius he was. He blessed the Premier League with some great moments and got his hands on the World Cup with Germany.

After short stints at Fenerbahce and Istanbul Basaksehir, Ozil took to Twitter to announce his retirement in March 2023, aged 34. We already miss him.

Gareth Bale

The Welsh winger went out on the international stage and announced his retirement soon after the World Cup in January. “It [football] has truly given me some of the best moments of my life,” explained Bale in his retirement post.

Bale made his name known in the Premier League with Tottenham Hotspur before going on to be top 10 most expensive signings in history when he signed for Real Madrid. He then conquered, in his nine-year tenure, won 15 trophies, including three La Liga titles and five Champions Leagues.

At his peak, there weren’t many other players better than Bale. You can ask Inter Milan’s great Maicon or former Barca defender Marc Bartra. His stardom peaked while at Real Madrid, and he had a large helping hand in the countless trophies the club won.

He’ll no doubt be living life up right now on a golf course somewhere. It’s ‘Wales. Golf. Real Madrid’.

Bojan Krkic

Made in La Masia, but shined in the Premier League, it is Krkic, who could ‘Cold, wet, windy night at Stoke City’.

It’s ridiculous to think that Bojan, who was dubbed as ‘the new Messi,’ retired before Messi himself. The Spanish forward deserves to be celebrated after a thoroughly enjoyable career.

Krkic failed to live up to the hype. But he had quite a career where he won 10 trophies with Barcelona and enjoyed stints with Roma, Milan and Ajax.

Best of all, he became a cult hero at Stoke City in the Premier League. After leaving England, he had spells in the MLS and J1 League before announcing his retirement in March 2023.

Sime Vrsaljko

The Croatian full-back won La Liga and the Europa League with Atletico Madrid, but injuries kept him from reaching his full potential. He also started in the 2018 World Cup final and received 52 caps for his country.

Aged 31, Vrsaljko took the decision to retire this year after mutually terminating his contract with Olympiacos.

Fernando Llorente

The physical Spanish forward scored over 200 goals in his career and made 676 appearances at club level. He enjoyed spells with Athletic Bilbao, Juventus and Tottenham.

He also had a memorable season with Swansea, as his 15 goals kept them out of the bottom three. Having been without a club since he left Eibar at the end of last season, he announced his retirement in February. One of his best memories must be playing in the UEFA Champions League final with Tottenham Hotspur.

Lucas Leiva

Lucas will always have a place in Liverpool fans’ hearts. The Brazilian midfielder decided to retire this year aged 36 after a heart issue was detected.

“I confess that it came from greater forces, but I look back and can only be thankful for the career I built,” Lucas wrote in his retirement post.

“In 2007 I transferred to the giant [that is] Liverpool, which was part of my life for 10 years. It is with great pride that I can say that today Liverpool is my home. I’m proud to be an English citizen and along with my family; I’m [a] Scouser!”

Emmanuel Adebayor

Aged 39, Adebayor announced his retirement from football in March. The former Arsenal and Real Madrid forward had spent his final years playing in his native country of Togo for Semassi.

We will sure miss him, though, as there was rarely a dull moment with Adebayor around.

Joao Miranda

The Brazilian defender spent his best days with Atletico Madrid and Inter Milan but decided to hang up the boots earlier this year. After a brief spell in China, he ended his career with Sao Paulo in Brazil.

Eljero Elia

The Dutch winger played in five counties throughout his career and has notable spells with Werder Bremen, Feyenoord, and Southampton.

Elia had been without a club since he left ADO Den Haag in January 2022, and he officially announced his retirement in February this year.

“This is the moment that the whole of the Netherlands will know that I have stopped playing football,” the winger told ESPN. “In my head I had already stopped. I didn’t like it anymore in recent years.”

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Lion, God, Fine Wine, the man called himself many things, and it’s safe to say, he lived up to those nicknames.

There was a flood of tears at San Siro during Ibra’s farewell. Fans, teammates, and even his opponents shared the emotional moments as one of the most prominent players said goodbye.

The legendary goalscorer finally hung up his boots after barely featuring for Milan in the 2022-23 campaign.

“The first time we arrived at Milan you gave me happiness, the second time you gave me love. From my heart I want to thank you fans,” he said. “You welcomed me with open arms, you made me feel at home.

“I will be a Milan fan for the whole It’s time to say goodbye to football, not you.”

Cesc Fabregas

Fabregas has been one of the most decorated players in football history, having won every title, from club to international level.

The former Arsenal, Chelsea and Barcelona midfielder has called it quits at the age of 36.

Fabregas is always fascinating when he talks about the game tactically. We can’t wait to see what becomes of his budding coaching career.

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