Retired footballers, especially those who have called time on their career recently, are bound to stir up fresh nostalgia. At the height of their powers, the players were are about to mention could dazzle, amaze and win their team’s trophies.
Also, at the peak of their abilities, these would’ve been the players you needed to have on your fantasy football team. Let’s take a look at the most important footballers who have called it a day this year.
Retired Footballers in 2023
Eden Hazard, naturally, starts and tops this list. It was only a few years ago that the Belgium attacking forward was arguably the best player in the world. This led to a high-profile transfer from Chelsea to Real Madrid, to being chosen for the cover of FIFA game franchise, and to hopes that Hazard would equal the results of players like Cristiano Ronaldo, or at least David Beckham.
However, his performance sound declined. Hazard gained weight, got injured often, and when he was rarely played during the last season by Carlo Ancelotti, failed to make much of an impact.
Hazard’s retirement comes as a bit of a shock to many. The one consolation to fantasy football fans is that his 5* rated card can still be used in the role of Assistant Manager, something that can earn an automatic 15 points every time that it is played.
Gigi Buffon earned nearly every possible reward in professional football. Still, even after all of this, the Italian keeper deeply enjoyed the beautiful game.
Bufon spent the final years of his career representing Parma, his boyhood club. He announced his retirement earlier this year in spite of having offered to continue playing. Buffon did everything on his own terms and leaves behind a tremendous legacy.
Oh, how time flies! To those of a certain generation, it may seem only a moment ago that Walcott was one of England’s most promising players. Indeed, at a young age, Theo Walcott seemed to possess all of the qualities required to succeed on the big stage.
But, the pressure may have also been his downfall. Walcott’s final professional contract was with Southampton. His best days on the pitch were in an Arsenal shirt. And many fans will remain with good memories of watching Walcott play before his 2023 retirement.
Mesut Ozil’s career undeniably belongs to the “What could’ve been” section. The former Germany international was blessed with the kind of talent that, at one point, made him a one-of-a-kind playmaker.
Having already won the World Cup and represented teams like Real Madrid and Arsenal early in his career, perhaps, there was little motivation left for Ozil. He retired in 2023, but sadly, his best playing days were already a distant memory.
Bojan Krkic‘s retirement is set to break a few FC Barcelona fans’ hearts. The attacking midfielder was famously delivered the kiss of death when he was labelled by many as “The New Messi.”
It was difficult to live up to the hype. Still, during his time in Catalunia, Krkic was among a squad that won 10 trophies and also added teams like AS Roma, AC Milan and Ajax Amsterdam to his resume.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic retired in 2023, having won the most of the more important club trophies and having earned the reputation of being one of the best and most popular footballers of all time.
Like former Arsenal teammate Mesut Ozil, Cesc Fabregas also peaked early. By the second act of his career, Fabregas’ performances showcased his experience, but missed the sheer excitement of old. He retired at the age of 36, while representing Como in Serie B.
Sime Vrsaljko announced his retirement this year at the age of just 31 years old. The Croatian is a La Liga champion and finalist of the World Cup. However, injuries prohibited Vrsaljko from continuing to build his impressive career. His retirement comes as a result of these physical challenges.
Are these players that you will regret not being able to pick for your fantasy football side, or simply miss watching?