Footballers are notoriously known as having a short career span, with the average career being around 15 years. So you would think that footballers would continue playing for as long as they possibly could. This sadly isn't the case for some footballers, who choose to end their career prematurely. Some footballers have their career tragically ended through injury, but some choose to retire...here are 5 retirements that left people scratching their heads.
5. Dimitar Berbatov - Bulgaria
On May 13th,2010 Berbatov announced his retirement from international football at the age of 30. This came as a shock to many as there had been no warning prior to his announcement. He stated his main reason for retiring was to give the younger players a chance. ''I promised to myself when I was nearly 30, if I didn't do anything with the national team it would be best to retire and give chances to younger players''. However, at the time it was unclear if this was really his main reason for retiring. He was later quoted as saying it was due to fatigue- but he refused to come out of retirement even though both Wales and England were drawn in the same group as Bulgaria for the 2012 qualifications, which would mean little travelling. He was also quoted as saying it was partly due to the criticism he received from his homeland for his 'lazy' performances in the World Cup qualifying campaign. He has also been quoted as saying he retired due to family commitments and then his was because he wanted to focus on his football at Manchester United. It struck people as odd that he couldn't decide on what was the real reason. It could be a combination of all these reasons. It could also be that there was something going on behind the scenes that none of us know about. Even so, his decision to retire came as a shock.
In my opinion, I think he was right to retire early because he can't achieve anything else with Bulgaria as i don't see them winning euro 2012. He has achieved all he realistically could with Bulgaria by becoming the all time record goal scorer for Bulgaria, with 48 goals in 70 appearances, and now Berbatov can concentrate on his club football with Manchester United, and it's already paying off as he has 20 goals already this season.
4. Paul Scholes - England
On August 3rd, 2004. Paul Scholes announced his retirement from International football with England, aged just 29. Scholes stated that he retired so he could spend more time with his family. Although, it's pretty clear he wasn't happy playing for England. Alex Ferguson said of Scholes retirement "I spoke to Paul nearly a year ago about it when he came to see me'' That means in 2003, at the age of 28, Paul Scholes was thinking of quiting England. So I doubt it was just family commitments, he was clearly unhappy playing for England, but why? The most likely explanation is because he was being played out of position after World Cup 2002, playing on the left wing to allow Gerrard and Lampard to form a partnership in midfield. Gerrard and Lampard were seen as the next England midfield and Scholes said he felt he should 'leave them to it'. Paul Scholes also received criticism from the English press and fans for his performance in Euro 2004, with everyone calling for him to be dropped- this could have played a big part in his decision to retire. The irony of it is that Gerrard and Lampard never formed a partnership in midfield, and had Scholes waited a little longer he would have had his favoured position back - still, he retires with 66 caps to his name.
Scholes was asked to return for England for the 2010 World Cup, he turned it down however,stating that if he had more time to think about it he may have said yes.
3. Tobias Rau - Germany
Tobias Rau might not be a name known to everyone. But Rau was capped 7 times for Germany and also played 48 times for Wolfsburg and 13 times for Bayern Munich. He retired from all forms of the game aged just 27. He was a highly rated defender that had lost his love for football. Following his move to Bayern Munich, he suffered a serious injury which kept him out of the side for 3 months. After he recovered he found it difficult to break into the first team as he faced stiff competition from Willy Sagnol. This would be a decent reason to leave Bayern, but is it enough to make someone quit football forever? Tobias Rau was arguably in his prime at 27 years old. He had won the Bundesliga title and the DFB Pokal ( The German equivalent of the English F.A Cup) He had also earned 7 caps for Germany scoring 1 goal. Rau could have easily earned a contract at another club but instead decided to retire with immediate effect. Could it be that even footballers on thousands of pounds per week can get depressed?
Tobias Rau stated the official reason for his retirement was so that he could go to university and start a career as a teacher.
2. Espen Baardsen - Norway
Baardsen may also not be a household name, however, he has 67 premier league appearances to his name, he also has 4 Norway caps and played in a World Cup. Espen Baardsen decided to retire from all forms of the game aged just 25. When asked why he quit football he said ''I got bored of it. Once you've played in the Premier League and been to the World Cup, you've seen it and done it. It was dictating what I could do and when. I felt unsatisfied intellectually, I wanted to travel the world'' Baardsen clearly wasn't cut out mentally for football and was unhappy, so decided to call it a day. On asked if he missed football he said ''Sometimes I miss the excitement, the stadium full of people, making a great save, you can't replicate that buzz.''
Espen Baardsen is now a Managing Director for an asset management fund called Eclectricaa. He shall forever be remembered for keeping a clean against Arsenal in a 0-0 draw at Highbury. Only one Spurs keeper has since held the Gunners to a blank on their own turf.
1. Eric Cantona - France
Eric Cantonas career at Manchester United ended in as much drama as it had begun. He had been signed for £1.2 million pounds from bitter rivals Leeds United. This created much unrest amongst the Manchester United fans as they grew increasingly frustrated by the lack of spending from Alex Ferguson. Especially someone who was relatively unproven having only scored 9 goals for Leeds United. However, he became a cult hero at Manchester United scoring 80 goals in less than 5 years and helped to bring Manchester United 11 domestic trophies and 5 Champions League trophies.
Eric Cantona first retired in 1991, in retaliation to being banned for 3 months by the French F.A, aged 25. He was convinced to come out of retirement and play his trade in England. After playing in England for 5 years,he retired from football indefinitely one week before his 31st birthday. This came as a massive shock not just to Manchester United fans, but football fans up and down the country. It was also the lack of a substantial explanation from the player who had disappeared to France that left everyone scratching their heads. Why has someone who was still at the top of their game and rumoured for a move to Real Zaragoza, retired from all football aged just 31. Still no one really knows, perhaps he thought if he retired he wouldn't lose his legacy and he could retire as one of the best players to have ever played football, rather than continue playing till he is 35 and be classed a has been who should call it a day - such as Beckham for example.
When questioned about his premature retirement Cantona has been quoted as saying "When you quit football it is not easy, your life becomes difficult. I should know because sometimes I feel I quit too young. I loved the game but I no longer had the passion to go to bed early, not to go out with my friends, not to drink, and not to do a lot of other things, the things I like in life."