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End of an era: Football legends who hung up their boots in 2017

Football has seen the best come and go and the year 2017 saw some legends of the game bid adieu to one of the greatest sports of all time.

Written by: Brett Ellis, New Delhi [ Published on: December 27, 2017 19:45 IST ]
Image Source : GETTY IMAGES Gianluigi Buffon of Italy cries after loosing at the end of the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Play-Off

Faith. Belief. Passion. Motivation. There comes a time when a footballer feels it's time to hang up his boots on the shelf and bid goodbye to the beautiful sport. Many appreciated, thousands have shed a tear and millions paid their respects. Football has seen the best come and go and the year 2017 saw some legends of the game bid adieu to one of the greatest sports of all time. Club legends, national heroes who have made millions of fans believe that there is nothing more passionate than this beautiful game. Every goal, every save, every pass, every dribble has sent millions into a frenzy when these legends graced the field. Here are a list of legends who said goodbye to the sport. 

Frank Lampard

England and Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard bid farewell in February this year. He announced his retirement during his tenure with New York City in the Major Super League (MLS). The 38-year old has had an illustrious career and the English midfielder will always be known as a Chelsea legend. Lampard made 649 appearances in 13 years for the Blues and 106 caps for England. Lampard was known for his screamers as he is the only player in the Premier League that has scored more goals from outside the box (41). Lampard helped Chelsea win the Champions League, three Premier League titles, four FA Cups, the Europa League and a community shield. Despite Lampard making an appearance for Manchester City and scoring against Chelsea in a league match, the Blues legend has been an inspiration for many youngsters in the making. 

Xabi Alonso

One of the coolest footballers to grace the field decided to end his career on a high note with Bayern Munich. The former Liverpool and Real Madrid midfielder decided to say goodbye to the sport at the age of 35. Alonso decided to hang up his boots and has no regrets about leaving as he feels that the time is right. Alonso won the Champions League with Liverpool and Real Madrid. The Spanish legend was also a part of the national team where he helped Spain lift the World Cup in 2010 for the first time and the Euro Cup as well.

Philipp Lahm

The German architect, captain dependable and World Cup winner Philipp Lahm decided to end his career a bit early than expected but feels that it's time for the youngsters to take over. Lahm announced his retirement in May and wanted to spend his time to constructively plan his personal life. Lahm's role was instrumental in Bayern Munich lifting the Bundesliga title five times in a row. Lahm along with teammate Xabi Alonso hung their boots this year. 15 years at the club, Lahm has seen players come and go but has always been the reliant right-back for Munich and Germany. Lahm won it all, Bundesliga, DFB Cup, Champions League, FIFA World Cup and is appeared for over 500 games with his boyhood club.

Francesco Totti

One of the most illustrious career Italy and AFC Roma ever witnessed. Loyalty is a meagre word in front of Francesco Totti's respect towards the club. Totti joined his boyhood club at a young age and stuck with Roma till he announced his retirement at the age of 40-years old. Totti was a talismanic symbol of the club and without a shadow of a doubt, the club's best player in history. The No.10 was always known as a 'one man club' because of his faithful and loyal behaviour towards the club. Totti is Roma's all-time scorer and has made the most appearances in club history. Totti has won it all and will always be with Roma forever. The Italian has planned to return to Roma soon and help in the management of the club. 

Andrea Pirlo

One of the greatest footballers that Italy offered the world, Andrea Pirlo is set to retire after his contract ends with the New York City FC in the Major League Soccer. The 38-year old has had an illustrious career and has bagged nearly every title with club and country.  Pirlo made 116 appearances for Italy and tapped in 13 goals. His career in the Italian League may have led to a series of rivalry but Pirlo was loved by all. Pirlo made 284 appearances for AC Milan and knocked in 32 goals after which the 'Metronome' switched to Old Turin where he played 119 games for Juventus and netted 16 goals. The midfielder's exit is an end of an era as the classy Italian set a statement ever since he set foot on a football field. Pirlo's career mesmerised football fans as the 'Mozart' made this sport special for all to witness.

Kaka

Kaka is better known as the 'only' player that defeated Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to bag the Ballon d'Or in 2007. The Brazilian is still undecided about his future but recently played his last match for MLS club Orlando City. The attacking midfielder helped Brazil lift the World Cup in 2002, but will be best known for his stint at AC Milan between 2003 and 2009, where the Brazilian was one of the best players on the planet while tasting Serie A and Champions League success. A Real Madrid move did not exactly work out for the midfielder but impressed since joining Orlando City. As media reports suggest, Kaka is planning on following Zidane's footsteps to take up coaching.

Gianluigi Buffon

Legendary, Iconic and one of the most reliable player's football has ever witnessed, Buffon decided to retire from International football after Italy failed to qualify for the FIFA World Cup 2018 Russia. The Juventus goalkeeper had announced his retirement from football after the  2018 World Cup, but time came too soon for the legend to say his goodbyes from International football. Italy lost to Sweden 1-0 in two playoffs after the Italians failed to score in San Siro which cost them the World Cup. Buffon did win the prestigious cup with his nation in 2006, but to end a career on a high note was just not written in the scripts for the goalkeeper. Buffon's ends his Italy career with 175 caps over two-decades and has represented the Azzurri five-times in the World Cup. Buffon will hang his boots for good after this season with Juventus where he will aim to win the Champions League after missing out last year in the finals.

Xavi

Mr.Barcelona. Right from a young age, the midfielder has influenced and groomed players during his spell at the Catalan club. Xavi has four Champions League trophies in his closet and hangs up his boots at the end of the season. The 37-year old has enjoyed an incredible career since breaking through as a teenager at Barca where he won the La Liga eight times. 133 caps for Spain in a 14-year spell. He along with Spain won the World Cup in 2010 and the Euro Cup in 2012. The midfielder has decided to take up coaching and who knows in time to come, the midfielder might be seen in the sidelines at Camp Nou instructing his players in a suit. 

Drogba

Ivory Coast sent one of their best ever products. A sniper on field, deadly in goals and breaking ankles with his dribbles, Chelsea legend Didier Drogba has decided to say goodbye at the age of 39. Drogba is currently playing for Phoenix Rising in America's USL has decided to retire at the end of the season. 381 appearances has seen the Ivory Coast player score 164 times in the process. He won four Premier League titles and FA Cups and one Champions League trophy. Drogba played for the Turkish league and MLS as well. The Chelsea legend has been one of the most inspirational strikers the sport has ever witnessed.

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