Hazard, Ozil, Ibrahimovic and Other Top Footballers Who Retired in 2023

Hazard, Ozil, Ibrahimovic and Other Top Footballers Who Retired in 2023

Elijah Odetokun
updated at December 27, 2023 at 3:44 PM
In this article:
Eden Hazard logo
-FBelgium logo
Mesut Özil logo
M. Özil
Başakşehir Futbol Kulübü logoMGermany logo
Zlatan Ibrahimović logo
Z. Ibrahimović
AC Milan logoFSweden logo
Emmanuel Adebayor logo
E. Adebayor
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  • Football lost some of its best superstars in 2023 to retirement
  • Eden Hazard retired on leaving Real Madrid after four years
  • David Silva was forced to retire after suffering an ACL injury

The lifespan of a football career is about 15 years, maybe 20-25 for some outliers, or even over 30 years if you are Kazuyoshi Miura – the Japanese footballer has been a professional before Lionel Messi was born.

2023 witnessed the end of the careers of some football greats. Some have a deserved and long overdue retirement, while some have forced retirements due to their bodies failing them.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, AC Milan, Hellas Verona, San Siro, Italian Serie A.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic applauding the AC Milan fans after announcing his retirement at San Siro. Photo by Nicolo Campo.
Source: Getty Images

Sports Brief looks at the top 10 footballers who retired this year, including veteran Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Top football stars who retired in 2023

1. Eden Hazard

Chelsea legend, Real Madrid flop. Hazard enjoyed a brilliant seven years at Stamford Bridge but hardly stayed fit to play during his four years at Madrid. His contract was mutually terminated, and he announced his retirement, turning down multiple offers.

2. Gareth Bale

Bale’s retirement came surprisingly. He led Wales to their first World Cup since 1958 in Qatar. He returned to his Major League Soccer club, Los Angeles FC, where he announced his retirement from professional football in January. He spends time with his family and plays golf.

3. Cesc Fabregas

Fabregas called it quit on July 1 after a year of playing for Como, a second-division Italian club he co-owned. He spent the months after on punditry duties and managed the team for five games, three of which he won.

4. Zlatan Ibrahimovic

The Swede superman surprisingly retired in the final game of the Italian Serie A season. Not even his family was aware, though it was planned he would leave AC Milan at the end of the season. He is back at the club as a senior adviser.

5. Mesut Ozil

The German magician left the beautiful game four games into his one-year contract at Turkish club Istanbul Basaksehir, citing recurrent injuries. He has been enjoying time with his family and catching up with fans on social media.

6. Emmanuel Adebayor

The Togolese striker ended his career in his home country with Semassi having played for top European clubs, including Real Madrid and Arsenal. He regularly updates his fans about his life on his Instagram.

7. Gianluigi Buffon

Gianluigi Buffon, one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time, announced his retirement in August at 45. He ended it at Parma, where it all began, having also played for Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain. “You gave me everything. I gave you everything.”

8. Giorgio Chiellini

Another Italian veteran, Giorgio Chiellini, announced his retirement two days after losing the MLS Cup final with LAFC. He spent the majority of his career at Juventus.

9. Bojan Krkic

Ironically, the next Messi retired before Messi. He was highly rated when he broke out at Barcelona, but his career went downhill, and he retired after leaving Vissel Kobe this year. He is the fourth cousin of former teammate Messi.

10. David Silva

Sadly, one of football’s greatest technicians bowed out of football badly. Silva ruptured his ACL ahead of the new season for Real Sociedad and retired six days later.

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Hazard stars in first game after retirement

Sports Brief reported on Hazard dazzling in his first game since announcing his retirement from professional football after four frustrating years at Real Madrid.

He turned up in a charity match to raise money to pay children’s hospital bills in France, and he scored and also provided five assists as his team won 11-2.

Elijah Odetokun photo
Elijah Odetokun
Elijah Odetokun is Reuters-trained journalist with three years of experience having previously worked at Daily Times Nigeria, OmaSports and El Futbolero.