Top Footballers Who Retired In 2023

Top Footballers Who Retired In 2023

Some of the footballers that retired in 2023 were among the best the game has ever seen, and had lasting impact on football.

While the playing age of footballers is now longer due to improvements in medicine, fitness, diet, rehabilitation, and increased professionalism; players can’t continue playing forever and will eventually retire.

Many footballers would love to keep playing the round-leather game for the rest of their lives, but at a point they have to face reality and begin a new life away from playing.

2023 will be remembered for Leo Messi winning a record 8 Ballon d’Or after finally winning the FIFA World Cup, Manchester City winning the treble, and Saudi Arabia shaking the world of soccer with their billions luring in superstars to the Middle East, among other notable events.

Sadly, some superstar football players also hung up their boots in 2023.

These retired footballers had great impact on football, while some had the primes of their careers cut short due to injury. Some simply decided it was time to walk away from the game, and others decided to explore other opportunities away from the pitch.

In this post, FootballOrbit presents you with 16 notable footballers who retired in 2023.

1. Eden Hazard (32 years)

Footballers retired 2023

Known for his creativity, dribbling, passing and vision, Eden Hazard is regarded as one of the best players of his generation.

His spent his peak at Chelsea, where he won the Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup and Europa League, as well as establishing himself as one of the best players in the world.

Hazard joined Real Madrid in 2019 in a transfer worth up to €150 million, making it one of the highest transfer fees ever.

However, injury woes, subpar performances, and a lack of fitness led to him only playing a limited number of games, eventually departing the club in June 2023.

He shockingly retired from professional football four months later, aged just 32.

2. Gianluigi Buffon (45 years)

Footballers retired 2023
Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

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

He began his career at Parma 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 at the time.

Buffon spent most of his career in Turin, despite a stint at PSG in 2018/19.

In total, 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.

Certainly, Buffon is one of the greatest goalkeepers of all-time.

3. David Silva (37 years)

Footballers retired 2023
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One of the most underrated footballers, David Silva was questioned upon arriving to the physically demanding English Premier League due to his frame.

But he regularly silenced his critics as he made light work of the EPL, eventually playing in 436 games for Manchester City, scoring 77 times and making 140 assists.

The magician had a long and illustrious career, playing 784 matches in total — scoring 125 times and making 194 assists.

His 35 goals in 125 international matches with Spain earned him two UEFA European Championships and a FIFA World Cup title.

At Man City, Silva won 4 EPL titles, 5 League Cup titles, two FA Cups, and 3 Community Shields.

Furthermore, with Real Sociedad and Valencia, he won the Copa del Rey trophy at both clubs.

4. Gareth Bale (33 years)

Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

One of the greatest Welsh players of all time, Gareth Bale was best known for his explosive pace, athleticism, and powerful strikes from distance.

He began his career at Southampton, playing at left-back before moving to Tottenham in 2007.

From the 2009/10 season, under the guidance of Harry Redknapp, Bale became an integral part of the team and transformed into a winger.

He went on to receive several individual honours, including two PFA Players’ Player of the Year awards and three PFA Team of the Year inclusions.

In September 2013, Real Madrid signed Bale for a then world record transfer fee of £85.1 million (€100.8 million).

Thereafter, he became part of Real’s devastating “BBC” frontline, alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema.

In his 9 years at Madrid, Bale won 15 trophies, including 3 La Liga titles and 5 Champions Leagues.

He joined MLS club, Los Angeles FC, in July 2022 before retiring in January 2023, aged 33.

5. Mesut Ozil (34 years)

Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

Known for his technical skills, creativity, passing skills and vision, Mesut Ozil is regarded as one of the best playmakers of his generation.

He broke through at Werder Bremen and joined Real Madrid in 2010 after starring at the FIFA World Cup.

At Madrid, Ozil helped the club win a La Liga title, and ranked first in league assists for three straight seasons.

In 2013, Ozil was the subject of a then-club record transfer when he signed for Arsenal in a transfer worth up to £42.5 million (€50 million) — becoming the most expensive German player ever at the time.

In England, he won three FA Cups and helped end Arsenal’s nine-year trophy drought, while recording the second most assists ever (19) in a Premier League season.

In 2021, Ozil joined Fenerbahce on a free transfer. After his contract with Fenerbahce was terminated in 2022, he signed with İstanbul Başakşehir, before retiring in 2023.

Mesut holds the record for the most German National Team Player of the Year awards (5). He made his senior debut for the Germany national team in 2009 aged 20, and appeared in five major tournaments.

He was the top assist provider at the 2010 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 2012, where he helped Germany twice reach the semi-final.

Ozil helped Germany win the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

6. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (41 years)

Footballers retired 2023
Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is one of the greatest strikers of all time and is one of the most decorated footballers in the world, having won 34 trophies in his career.

He scored over 570 career goals, including more than 500 club goals, and has scored in each of the last four decades.

Ibra played for Malmo, Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan, PSG, Manchester United and LA Galaxy.

With Sweden, he had an over 20-year international career. He is the country’s all-time leading goalscorer with 62 goals.

He represented Sweden at the 2002 and 2006 FIFA World Cups, as well as the 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016 UEFA European Championships.

Ibrahimovic won the Guldbollen (the Golden Ball), given to the Swedish player of the year, a record 12 times, including 10 consecutive times from 2007 to 2016.

Zlatan’s 35-yard bicycle kick goal for Sweden against England won the 2013 FIFA Puskás Award, and is often considered one of the best goals of all time.

7. Theo Walcott (34 years)

Theo Walcott also retired in 2023 after struggling with injuries throughout his career. His style of play, which majorly relies on speed, made him prone to injuries playing in the Premier League.

Theo Walcott was expected to be the next golden boy for Arsenal after Thierry Henry, but he never fully fulfilled his potential.

For Arsenal, he played 397 games, scored 108 goals and provided 80 assists. He won three FA Cups and two Community Shields at the Emirates.

Overall, Walcott played 564 club games for Arsenal, Everton, and Southampton. As well as earning 47 caps with England.

8. Emmanuel Adebayor (39 years)

During his career, Emmanuel Adebayor played for Arsenal, Man City, Tottenham, Crystal Palace, Metz, Monaco, Real Madrid, İstanbul Başakşehir, Kayserispor, Club Olimpia and Semassi.

He led Togo to the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany — the country’s first, and to date only, appearance at the World Cup.

Adebayor won the African Footballer of the Year award in 2008.

He was known for his pace, strength, technique, goalscoring, as well as his ability to link-up well with his teammates.

However, he was also notorious for his lack of discipline. He was famously involved in one of the most controversial goal celebrations ever when he scored for Man City against his former club Arsenal in 2009.

9. Diego Godin (37 years)

Regarded as one of the best defenders of his generation, Diego Godin started out at Cerro before joining Nacional.

He then spent the majority of his career in Spain, representing Villarreal and Athletico Madrid, winning 8 titles with the latter club — including the La Liga championship in the 2013/14 season.

Also, Godin played in Italy with Inter Milan and Cagliari, in Brazil with Atlético Mineiro and in Argentina with Vélez Sarsfield, before he eventually retired in 2023.

A Uruguay international from 2005 to 2022, Godín is the country’s all-time most-capped player. He represented the national side at four World Cups and six Copa América tournaments, winning the 2011 edition of the latter competition.

10. Cesc Fabregas (36 years)

Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

One of the best midfielders of his generation, few had a great sense for passes like Cesc Fabregas.

He started very young, at the age of 16, and enjoyed an illustrious career. He won a World Cup trophy, two Euros, two Premier Leagues, one La Liga, amongst several titles.

He made 110 appearances for Spain, scoring 15 goals, during the country’s most glorious era.

In total, he made 737 appearances at club level, scored 125 goals and provided 214 assists.

While at Serie B club, Como, Fabregas announced his retirement from football on the 1st of July 2023.

11. Lucas Leiva (36 years)

Lucas Leiva began his career as a box-to-box midfielder at Gremio where he won the Campeonato Gaúcho in 2006 and 2007.

In July 2007, he moved to Liverpool, where he played 347 matches over the course of a decade, winning the League Cup in 2012.

Furthermore, between 2010 and 2016, Lucas led the Premier League in tackles per game five times in six seasons.

He has the second most tackles in Premier League history, and remains the Brazilian with the 3rd most Premier League appearances.

He joined Lazio in 2017.

A full international since 2007, he has earned 24 caps and represented Brazil at the 2008 Olympics and 2011 Copa América, winning a bronze medal at the former.

Moreso, Leiva captained the Brazil U-20 team to victory in the 2007 South American Youth Championship.

On the 17th of March 2023, Lucas Leiva announced his retirement from football, he had been diagnosed with a cardiac alteration the previous December.

12. Joaquin (42 years)

It seemed like Joaquin Sanchez would play on forever….

He was best known for his agility and acceleration, as well as excellent dribbling and crossing ability.

During his career, he was mainly associated with Betis and Valencia, appearing in a joint-record 622 La Liga matches over 20 seasons and scoring 77 goals while winning the Copa del Rey with both clubs (twice with the former).

He also represented Málaga and Fiorentina.

Joaquín was capped for Spain on 51 occasions, representing the nation in two World Cups and Euro 2004.

13. Bojan Krkic (32 years)

Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

Bojan began his career at Barcelona after progressing through the youth ranks at La Masia.

His early promise saw him make his first-team debut at the age of 17 years and 19 days, breaking the record set by Lionel Messi.

In his debut season, he scored 12 goals in 48 matches. But regular comparisons with Messi overburdened him and eventually stalled his progress.

In total, he spent four seasons at Camp Nou, scoring 41 goals in 162 games before he was sold in July 2011 to AS Roma.

After leaving Roma, Bojan played for the likes of AC Milan, Ajax, Stoke City and Vissel Kobe.

He found himself without a club as of January 2023 after being left out of the squad by Vissel Kobe.

Bojan officially retired at the age of 32 on the 23rd of March 2023.

14. Fernando Llorente (37 years)

Fernando Llorente started his career with Athletic Bilbao, working his way through the various youth ranks and, after making his first team debut in 2005, becoming one of the most important offensive players for the club in the following decade.

He scored 29 goals in all competitions in the 2011/12 season, and was described as a “Bilbao legend”.

He signed with Juventus in 2013, and won the Serie A title twice during his two-year spell there.

Subsequently, he played for Sevilla, Swansea, Tottenham, Napoli, Udinese and Eibar.

A Spain international from 2008 to 2013, Llorente was a member of the squads which won the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012.

He officially announced his retirement from professional football on the 16th of February 2023.

15. Willy Caballero (41 years)

Willy Caballero spent most of his early career in Spain, representing Elche and Málaga and competing in La Liga with the latter club.

In 2014, he joined Manchester City, helping them win the 2016 League Cup.

In 2017, he joined Chelsea where he was a backup keeper for four seasons.

The Argentine had an 18-month spell at Southampton, before announcing his retirement after the club’s relegation last season.

Caballero is currently the assistant manager of Leicester City.

16. Miranda (38 years)

Brazilian defender, Miranda, spent his best days with Atletico Madrid and Inter Milan.

After a brief spell in China, he ended his career with Sao Paulo in Brazil.

On January 11, 2023, Miranda announced his retirement at the age of 38.