11 footballers who retired in 2021

World News

After Croatia veteran Mario Mandzukic announced his retirement from professional football recently, here are another 10 stars who hung up their boots in 2021. 

While some players have retired from international football only, including Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos and former North Macedonia talisman Goran Pandev, this article comprises only those stars who have left the professional game completely. 

Scroll through the gallery above to see 11 stars who retired in 2021

Mandzukic recently called time on a stellar career that saw him represent several massive clubs, including Bayern Munich, Juventus, and Atletico Madrid. The striker retired at the relatively modest age of 35 following a spell with Serie A side AC Milan. 

The Croatian was also capped 89 times for his national team, and was a part of the 2018 FIFA World Cup side that finished as runners-up to eventual champions France. 

Two former Manchester United stars in Wayne Rooney and Antonio Valencia also said farewell to the game earlier in the year, with the former taking up a coaching position at English Championship side Derby County since. 

Read: France star dies after 39-year coma

German twins Sven and Lars Bender also hung up their professional boots this year, citing health reasons for their exit from competitive football at the end of the 2020/21 season. The pair both played for Bayer Leverkusen in their final campaign, and released a statement well in advance explaining their decision to step away from top-flight football. 

"Everyone who knows us knows that we give 100% every day. That was always the basic requirement for us," their statement on the Bundesliga's official website read. 

"Unfortunately, it is becoming increasingly difficult for us to do this continuously with all the pain and physical problems from which we are suffering more and more.

"This decision has been anything but easy, not least because of the honest, fair and understanding relationship with the Leverkusen club management in the past and right up to today. Bayer 04 now have time to plan and that was important to us."

Other top stars who have retired this year include former Netherlands star Arjen Robben and an ex-Los Blancos midfielder – you can see them and more in the gallery above!

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