Gianluigi Buffon and Zlatan Ibrahimovic shake hands. Both football players retired in 2023.
Gianluigi Buffon and Zlatan Ibrahimovic shake hands.

Seven brilliant players who have retired from football in 2023

Gianluigi Buffon became the latest legendary football player to announce his retirement from the game this week.

The Italian shot stopper will go down as one of, if not the best goalkeepers of all time after a stellar career that stretched four decades.

He is not the only one to hang up his boots this year, though. Several high profile names have announced they will never take to the pitch again.

Buffon and six legendary footballers who retired in 2023:

Gianluigi Buffon

A career that started in Parma ends in Parma after spending the last two years at his boyhood club in Serie B. In between, he spent most of his time at Juventus, where he won countless medals, although the Uefa Champions League eluded him.

Buffon did, though, win the World Cup with Italy in 2006, the crowning glory of his career. Following his emotional announcement this week, it’s unlikely we’ll ever see the likes of him again.

Gigi Buffon’s best penalty saves for Juventus

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

A former teammate of Buffon, Zlatan Ibrahimovic leaves the game with a bagful of medals, a host of memorable quotes and a highlight reel that would make Ronaldinho blush.

After banging in goals for fun in the Netherlands, Italy, Spain and France, doubts still remained over his true ability as he had never done it in the Premier League. He dispelled those with aplomb by scoring 28 goals in 46 appearances for Manchester United in 2016/17.

Although the Swede is not to everyone’s taste, he is the type of maverick that is going extinct in the modern game.

Iconic Performances: Zlatan stuns England and turns critics into believers

Cesc Fabregas

The former Arsenal and Chelsea midfielder announced his retirement in July after a stupendous 20-year career. The Spaniard won 12 major trophies, including the Fifa World Cup and two European Championships, although he too never won the Champions League.

Having also lined up for Barcelona and Monaco, he spent the last year playing in Serie B with Como, where one Dennis Wise is the CEO.

Gareth Bale

Although injuries greatly diminished his playing time at Real Madrid, Gareth Bale could hardly have dreamed of the level of success he would have with Los Blancos. The Welshman was weighed down with silverware by the time he left the club in 2022, winning five Champions Leagues and a host of other honours.

While the Welshman was revered at Tottenham Hotspur, he was never the most popular figure in Madrid, as he was accused of caring more about his golf game than his career. He signed off with one last trophy, the MLS Cup, with Los Angeles FC, and three appearances at the Fifa World Cup with Wales before announcing his retirement in January.

David Silva

A magician with the ball at his feet, David Silva was forced into early retirement after suffering a cruciate ligament injury. The Spaniard helped Real Sociedad qualify for the Champions League this year, but he will play no part in the forthcoming campaign.

The midfielder could have slotted into any team in the world at his peak. He spent most of his career at Manchester City, where he proved instrumental in the club’s decade of success after being bought up by City Football Group.

Midfield Magicians: David Silva – El Mago

Mesut Özil

The mercurial playmaker divided opinion among many football fans during his time at Arsenal, but he produced some superb moments in the Premier League and in Europe during his time in north London.

It ended in ignominy as Mikel Arteta pushed the German international and his massive wages out the door. He struggled at his next stop in Turkey, where he played for Fenerbahce and Istanbul Basaksehir before quitting the game altogether in March due to recurring injuries.

Diego Godin

A warrior of a defender, Diego Godin left an indelible mark on Spanish football during his time with Atletico Madrid. He was a central figure in the 2014 side that won La Liga and reached the Champions League final. The Uruguayan was an old school centre-half who never shirked a battle.

READ – Roberto Baggio: The Divine Ponytail smashes two screamers past Buffon

READ ALSO – 20 of the best quotes about Italian goalkeeping legend Gianluigi Buffon

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