Soccer is a popular sport that attracts millions of fans and players around the world. However, soccer is also a physically demanding sport that requires a high level of endurance, speed, and agility. As a result, soccer players cannot play at the highest level forever. They have to face the inevitable decision of when to retire from the game. But at what age do soccer players retire? Is there a fixed time limit for their careers? What factors influence their retirement decisions?
In this article, we will answer these questions and more, using facts and data from various sources.
Why do soccer players retire?
There are many reasons why soccer players decide to retire from the game. Some of the most common ones are:
Soccer players retire due to Injuries
Soccer players are exposed to a lot of physical stress and risk of injury during their careers. Sometimes, they may suffer from a serious injury that prevents them from playing again or affects their performance significantly.
For example, Marco van Basten, the former Netherlands and AC Milan striker, retired from professional soccer in 1995 at the age of 30 due to a chronic ankle injury that had plagued him for several years.
Retirement due to Old age
As soccer players get older, their physical abilities decline. They may lose their stamina, speed, strength, and agility. Players may also find it harder to recover from matches and training sessions. They may also face more competition from younger and fitter players. Therefore, many soccer players retire when they feel that they can no longer keep up with the demands of the game.
For example, Arjen Robben, the former Netherlands and Bayern Munich winger, retired from professional soccer in April 2022, at the age of 37. Robben stated that he had “no energy left” to continue playing at the highest level and that it was time for him to move on to the next chapter of his life.
Soccer Players Retire Due to Personal Reasons
Some soccer players may retire for personal reasons, such as a lack of motivation, passion, or enjoyment of the game. They may also want to spend more time with their families, pursue other interests, or start a new career.
For example, Eric Cantona, the former France and Manchester United forward, retired from professional soccer in 1997 at the age of 30. Cantona said that he had lost the fire and desire to play soccer and that he wanted to explore other artistic fields, such as acting and painting.
What Age Do Soccer Players Retire?
There is no definitive answer to the question of what age do soccer players retire. Different players may retire at different ages, depending on their circumstances, preferences, and goals. However, in general, the average retirement age for soccer players is around 35 years old.
This is because soccer is a physically demanding sport that requires a high level of endurance, speed, and agility. As players get older, their physical abilities decline, and they may find it harder to compete with younger and fitter players.
Average Retirement Age
For example, midfielders are often the fittest players on the field, as they have to move from one box to the other, covering lots of distances within a short time. Therefore, midfielders may retire earlier than other players, as they may lose their edge and effectiveness as they age.
On the other hand, goalkeepers are usually the least physically demanding players. They do not have to run around for 90 minutes like their outfield counterparts. Therefore, goalkeepers may last longer than other players. Goalkeepers rely more on their experience, positioning, and reflexes than their physical attributes.
According to a study by the International Centre for Sports Studies (CIES), the average age of soccer players in the top five European leagues (England, Spain, Germany, Italy, and France) in 2020 was 26.6 years old. The study also found that the average age of players varied by position, as shown in the table below:
The table shows that goalkeepers are the oldest players on average, followed by centre-backs, full-backs, midfielders, and strikers. This suggests that goalkeepers and defenders tend to have longer careers than midfielders and attackers, as they are less affected by the physical decline that comes with aging.
Soccer is a sport that requires a lot of physical and mental skills, as well as passion and dedication. However, soccer players cannot play forever, as they have to face the reality of retirement at some point in their careers. The average retirement age for soccer players is around 35 years old, but this may vary depending on the soccer position, injury, and personal reasons of the player. Some players may retire earlier than others, while some may continue playing until their late 30s or even 40s. Ultimately, the decision of when to retire is up to the individual player, who has to weigh the pros and cons of continuing or ending their soccer career.