What Age Do Soccer Players Retire?
Soccer is enjoyed by millions across the globe but only a very small percentage of youth players turn pro.
Those that make it to the big leagues understand the commitment and dedication it takes to “perfect” their craft.
Like most team and individual sports, soccer is physically and mentally demanding.
From minor aching injuries to major breaks or ruptures, soccer can take an unwanted toll on the human body.
Or, it can be a mental battle with yourself.
With this said, there always comes a time when players need to hang it up and retire from the sport.
There are many factors that can influence when a soccer player decides to retire.
Age is certainly one of these factors, but it is not the only one.
Injuries, performance, and personal circumstances can also play pivotal roles in a player’s decision to retire.
In this article, we will explore what age soccer players retire and the different factors that can impact their retirement.
Soccer Players’ Retirement Age
Factors Affecting Retirement Age
The retirement age of soccer players is influenced by several factors.
One of the most significant factors is the player’s position. For example, goalkeepers tend to retire later than other positions because they have less physical demands on their body.
Furthermore, a player’s injury history can also impact their retirement age. Players who have suffered from severe injuries may retire earlier than others. In some cases, a player may hurt themselves at a later age and are never able to recover like they did when they were in their 20s.
Another factor that affects retirement age is the level of play. Players who play at a higher level, such as in the Champions League or World Cup, may retire later than those who play in lower leagues. There’s typically to be more support and resources for players in the top leagues.
The amount of playing time a player receives can also impact their retirement age. Players who play fewer minutes as they age, will typically play longer. At the same time, players who also play fewer minutes may have to retire because they are not needed anymore.
Lastly, players who develop healthy habits over their career tend to play longer. We’re seeing more and more professional athletes invest in their body and recovery. Athletes realize that by taking care of their bodies, they are able to play longer at a high level.
Average Retirement Age by Position
Like we mentioned above, the average retirement age for soccer players typically varies by position.
According to a study conducted by the International Federation of Professional Footballers, the average retirement age by position is:
|Position||Avg. Age of Retirment|
|Goalkeepers||40 years old|
|Defenders||35 years old|
|Midfielders||33 years old|
|Forwards||32 years old|
It’s important to note that these are just averages and not every player will retire at the same age.
Retirement age can vary based on individual circumstances.
Life After Retirement
Retirement from a sport can be a challenging transition for any professional athlete.
Many players struggle to find a new career after retiring from soccer. Therefore, it is essential for players to plan for their next career at the tail end of their playing years.
Players should consider their interests, skills, and education when planning for a career transition.
They should also network and build relationships with professionals in their desired field.
Another option for career transition is to pursue a coaching career. Many retired soccer players become coaches and use their experience and knowledge to help young players develop their skills.
If players make the right decisions when they are taking in a salary, they could be investing in real estate and businesses. It can sometimes be a natural transition from playing to continuing building assets for the future.
Soccer Players Who Retired (Their Age at Retirement)
Here are the retirement ages for some the most famous soccer players in the world:
- Rivaldo – 43 years old
- Paolo Maldini – 41 years old
- Lev Yashin – 41 years old
- Lothar Matthäus – 40 years old
- Ferenc Puskás – 39 years old
- Alessandro Del Piero – 39 years old
- Xavi – 39 years old
- David Beckham – 38 years old
- Andrea Pirlo – 38 years old
- Diego Maradona – 37 years old
- Johan Cruyff – 37 years old
- Thierry Henry – 37 years old
- Ronaldinho – 37 years old
- Fabio Cannavaro – 37 years old
- Pelé – 36 years old
- Carles Puyol – 36 years old
- Ronaldo – 34 years old
- Zinedine Zidane – 34 years old
- Franz Beckenbauer – 33 years old
- Michel Platini – 32 years old
Based on the research conducted, it is clear that the retirement age for soccer players varies greatly depending on various factors such as playing position, level of play, and overall physical condition.
While some players may retire in their mid-30s due to injuries or declining performance, others may continue playing well into their early 40s.
Only time will tell but with modern medicine and advancements in technology, will we see players start retiring in their 50s? Something to think about.
It is important to note that retirement from professional soccer does not necessarily mean the end of a player’s involvement in the sport. Many retired players go on to become coaches, analysts, or work in other roles within the soccer industry.
While there is no set retirement age for soccer players, it is important for players to be aware of their physical limitations and take steps to maintain their health and well-being both during and after their playing careers.