The World of football is looking forward to a cracking UEFA Champions League final on 26th May 2018. The focus will shift immediately to FIFA World Cup showdown set to kick off on June 14th in Russia. However, the soccer family is also saying goodbye to a few legends. It is one of those very sad moments for fans. Today, amidst all that is going on, we want to recognize five football icons leaving our beautiful game in 2018.
5. Per Mertesacker
Wow my last season just flew by, but I am so happy to start my new chapter at @Arsenal and all the challenges the Academy will bring! ⚽#WeAreTheArsenal #Youth #MotivationMonday pic.twitter.com/o659EYCntQ
— Per Mertesacker (@mertesacker) May 14, 2018
Per Mertesacker has said goodbye to the beautiful game at a tender age of 33 years. The former Arsenal defender has struggled with injuries in the last couple of years but his retirement is down to his lack of desire to play again. He helped the Gunners lift 3 FA Cups and 2 Community Shields. He started off with a DFB-Pokal with his former team Werder Bremen. He was in the team that lifted 2014 FIFA World Cup with Germany. He will take over a coaching role at Arsenal Academy.
“My body is finished,” he said.
“Everyone says I should enjoy the last year, to play as much as possible and take everything in.
“I would rather sit on the bench or – even better – in the stands, and then, for the first time in my life, aged more than 30, I will feel free.
“Some days you realize that everything is a burden, both physically and mentally, but you have to deliver without a doubt, even if you are injured.
4. Didier Drogba
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) March 12, 2018
Chelsea legend Didier Drogba is finally going to hang up his boots after 20 years in the game. The former Ivory Coast captain announced a few months ago that this is the time for him to say goodbye. The legendary forward is currently finalizing his departure at MLS side Phoenix Rising. He will be remembered for many things but that penalty against Bayern Munich that helped the Blues win their first and only UEFA Champions League crown is up there.
The striker made his debut at French side Le Mans and then moved to Guingamp and Marseille before signing for the London side in 2004 for £24 million. He lifted all trophies available in club level including 4 Premier League crowns and 4 FA Cups among others.
“I started late at the top level. I really enjoy playing – I like my role of owner-player a lot. I’m surrounded by a lot of youngsters, and I like passing my know-how on to them. But this season is the last. I’m 40, it’s time now.”
3. Michael Carrick
The last member of that great Manchester United team that won UEFA Champions League in 2008 has finally retired. Michael Carrick played his final game two weeks ago at Old Trafford against Watford. The legendary midfielder had a great career winning 5 Premier League titles, 1 FA Cup, 1 UCL, 1 Europa League and 1 FIFA Club World Cup among others. Jose Mourinho has offered him a role in the backroom staff.
“There comes a time when, as much as you like or don’t like it, your body tells you it’s time to stop playing football. That’s pretty much where I’m at, which is fine. It’s something you have to accept. That’s where I’m at.”
‘I have to admit that one of the most difficult things in my 18 years as a manager is when a big player is leaving – it is always very sad.
‘So this time we try to do it in a way where I am not sad. A big player is leaving but a big man is staying.