From Agassi to Maldini: When do sports stars call it quits?

Sport360 staff 18:40 19/04/2016

In sport, we expect a lot from our favourite stars but there comes a time when they have to hang up their jerseys because they simply can’t keep up with the competition… or have finally afforded that private island.

As competition becomes more demanding, we see more athletes hanging up their gloves, putting away their bats and taking off their spikes.

With this in mind, Sport360 has rummaged through the records to show that age is just a number in sport.


One of the most popular sports in the world, professional footballers generally start their careers by the age of 16 and retire at 30 as the physical and mental demands begin to take their toll.

Age was just a number for: Paolo Maldini. The Italian defender spent 25 years with AC Milan before hanging up his boots in 2009 at the prime age of 41. He was the oldest player ever to score a goal in a Champions League final, when AC Milan were beaten on penalties to Liverpool in 2005.


Similar to soccer, many NFL stars retire at 30 after being drafted into the league in their early 20’s. Certain positions, such as kicker, see players extend their careers by a number of years.

Age was just a number for: Warren Moon. Although born in the US, the quarterback spent his first five years of post-college football in Canada, only joining the NFL in 1984 in a career that lasted until 2000.

During his 16 years in the NFL, he set a stack of records including the NFL Passing Yards Leader and was named the first African-American Hall of Famer.


One of the few sports that sees a large amount of players stay competitive well past the age of 40 and even caters to the aging stars by having an entire tour dedicated to Seniors.

Age was just a number for: Jack Nicklaus. Widely regarded as the best golfer of all time, Nicklaus started his professional career as a 21-year-old in 1961 and played up until The Open in 2005. However, his greatest feat was a staggering 24 year gap between winning his first and last majors.


The gentleman’s sport has recently turned into a more action packed affair with the introduction of the T20 format which has seen many players retire in their early 30’s after being safely kept in the slips for a few additional years.

Age was just a number for: Misbah-ul-Haq. A staunch top order defender and ODI Captain for Pakistan who had the most runs of any batsman in ODI’s in 2013. Most notably, he scored a Test century at the age of 41 against England, the oldest in history.


With the ATP and WTA tours stretching over a ten month period – and that’s not including the four Grand Slam events taking place in between – many stars retire early as the competition becomes too fierce. In fact, statistics show over 50% of players drop-out of the ATP World Tour when they are 30.

Age was just a number for: Andre Agassi. A household name in the early noughties, Agassi was one of the oldest players to win a Grand Slam at 32 years of age. The American also won a gold medal at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.


The NBA has seen a large increase in the average age of players in comparison to a number of decades ago, with most retiring before their 30’s nowadays after entering the league at 23.

Age was just a number for: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. After being drafted into the NBA in 1969, he finished his career with the LA Lakers in 1989 after spending 14 years at Centre. Abdul-Jabbar had a decorated career in the Lakers jersey and was a six-time NBA MVP and all-time leading scorer.


As only the second contact sport on this list, rugby union has many experienced players but rarely do they stick around the ruck past 30.

Age was just a number for: Mike Catt. The England international had 75 caps representing the Red Rose despite being born in South Africa. The inside centre played alongside Jonny Wilkinson on that famous Rugby World Cup winning team in 2003 and was one of the oldest players to appear in a World Cup final in 2007 at the age of 36.


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