From Podolski to Beckham - 10 footballing farewells

Sport360 staff 12:16 23/03/2017
Which one brought a tear to your eye?

Who said footballers don’t care?

Reaching the end of your playing career, signing off from the international scene or leaving your boyhood club is an emotional experience.

For most players, a life beyond football and what they love doing the most is incomprehensible.

These top 10 stars all ended respective parts of their careers in different ways.

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LUKAS PODOLSKI

The 31-year-old ended his international career in perfect style on Wednesday night as he netted the winner for Germany against England.

It was a truly stunning strike to round-off a stellar international CV which yielded 130 caps, 49 goals and of course a World Cup trophy back in 2014.

IKER CASILLAS

Many people thought the Spaniard would spend his entire career with Real Madrid but after 25 years at Los Blancos, and following rumours of fall-outs with the club’s management, Casillas left the Santiago Bernabeu.

Club president Florentino Perez granted the goalkeeper a farewell press conference and the Madrid legend broke down in tears before moving to Porto in July 2015.

XAVI

The Barcelona legend brought down the curtain on a truly amazing career in stunning style – helping the Catalan giants win the Champions League against Juventus.

The midfield maestro entered the fray late on for what was his 767th appearance for the club.

Xavi won 25 trophies in 17 seasons at the Nou Camp.

DAVID BECKHAM

Back in May 2013, the former England captain brought down the curtain on a magnificent career.

Playing for Paris Saint-Germain, Beckham was substituted with just a few minutes to go in his final football match.

Becks couldn’t hold back the tears as he received a standing ovation walking off the pitch.

ALESSANDRO DEL PIERO

The ultimate one-club man, Del Piero is without doubt the Turin club’s greatest-ever player.

He holds the record for most goals (290) and most appearances (705), spending 19 seasons with Juventus before moving to Sydney FC in Australia to wind down his career in the summer of 2012.

His final appearance for Juve came during the Coppa Italia Final against Napoli – and predictably – he received a standing ovation after being substituted in the second-half.

BASTIAN SCHWEINSTEIGER

In September 2016, Bastian Schweinsteiger gave an emotional speech to fans and cried ahead of his final international appearance for Germany against Finland.

The midfielder struggled to keep his emotions in check as fans paid tribute to the service he had given the country.

STEVEN GERRARD

Gerrard’s final match for Liverpool was actually against Stoke City, in which he scored, in May 2015.

But the talismanic Kop skipper’s proper send-off was the weekend before as the Reds were defeated at home by Crystal Palace.

However, the result was more than secondary on the day as Gerrard received a rapturous reception and send-off by the Anfield faithful before he moved to LA Galaxy.

RAUL

The modern-day Real Madrid icon was given a remarkable send-off in a tribute game in the summer of 2013.

Raul left the Bernabeu at the end of the 2009-10 campaign, joining Schalke – before signing for Al Sadd in May 2012.

Madrid paid tribute to their most capped player in the annual Santiago Bernabeu Trophy match (against Al Sadd), in which Raul played a half for each team (and obviously ended up scoring for Madrid!)

DUNCAN FERGUSON

The legendary Everton striker ended his Goodison Park career with a goal – converting the rebound from his missed penalty – to secure a 2-2 draw against West Brom in May 2006.

Ferguson is now part of Ronald Koeman’s coaching staff with the Toffees.

MATT LE TISSIER

The script was well and truly written for the Southampton legend to finish his extraordinary career with the Red and Whites on the ultimate high.

During the final match of the of the 2000-01 season and last fixture to ever be played at the club’s Dell Ground – ‘Le God’ thumped home a left-footed strike into the top corner to defeat Arsenal.

Although it wasn’t his last appearance for the club, it was his last goal, and is seen as the finale to a remarkable journey with the Saints.

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