7 Reasons Why Soccer Players Retire So Early 2023

Soccer players tend to hang up their cleats early for a few reasons, one of them being that soccer is a real body-beater.

Playing soccer at a professional level demands so much from you, both physically and mentally.

All that running, jumping, and kicking can be a real pain in the joints.

A pro-soccer career is short-lived, lasting only about 8-20 years. It’s fierce competition to get a spot in a top team, and as players age, they might have a harder time keeping up with the younger, faster players.

After all, there’s only so much time you can spend chasing a ball around.

In today’s article, we dive deeper to understand and share with you 7 reasons why soccer players retire so early.

Reasons Why Soccer Players Retire So Early

7 Reasons Why Soccer Players Retire So Early

Never Enough Time For Their Families

Many players often retire in their early 30s due to a lack of quality time for their families or no time at all.

As a player with a family, you must always be there and create time for them.

But with tight, busy schedules, and sometimes competitive matches, footballers lose focus on where to devote their time and attention to.

Time can be a real pain in the grass for soccer players, as they have goals and achievements they want to knock out before retiring.

But as the wise old saying goes, “family comes first” – or maybe I should say “blood is thicker than the turf.”

As such, they deem it right to end their career and spend enough quality time with their families.

Loss Of Physical Competence

Soccer requires stamina, and physical, and mental resilience.

Over time, players no longer have the pace and physical strength to endure the game’s demands and requirements.

It becomes difficult for them to race, train intensely like before, or to even compete in a match with players in their 20s who are more agile and stronger.

Asides from losing pace and speed, stronger muscles become weaker, stronger joints and knees become fragile, and players become susceptible and delicate to injury.

It is difficult for a player to continue at this stage and even more difficult for the club to continue or propose a contract to such a player.

I mean, no club wants a player who can’t deliver them the gold. So, players often choose to retire early and leave the field with a shred of dignity intact.

Losing their physical prowess is one of the reasons why soccer players often call it quits sooner than later.

Examples of players who retired early due to loss of physical competence are Eric Cantona, Michael Owen, Marco Van Basten, and many others. 

Private Reasons

Other times, you just get hit with the news that your favorite soccer just retired. You get shocked and begin to wonder why and even ask questions to your fellow soccer lovers.

Some players retire so early due to private reasons that are known and understandable to them.

It could be anything from a spiritual awakening to a midlife crisis.

Maybe they’re grappling with some emotional baggage, or perhaps they’re just sick of running around on a field all day.

Whatever the reason, it’s a real kick in the grass for fans like us.

This detachment from the game may come from losing the game, disappointing someone they looked up to

Other times, it’s because they had a coach who was more like a ball and chain, dragging them down with their bad soccer philosophy.

Not to sound too sure, but we’ll never truly know what causes a player to take their cleats and call it quit. So we’ll just have to accept that some players choose to retire, and leave the rest up to speculation.

Change In Perception

For some reason, a play may suddenly want to switch careers to go into maybe sportscasting, club director, brand ambassador, sports analysis, even philanthropists, and other times sports management.

Maybe they just got tired of all the adrenaline and glory that comes with being a player.

Who needs standing ovations and roaring applause when you can sit on the sidelines and talk about someone else’s achievements?

I guess it’s all about chasing new challenges and experiencing different things.

Just take look at Franck Leboeuf, he won the World Cup for France, but now he’s more interested in acting in films and on stage. Talk about a career deep change.



Time is the ultimate opponent, and even the greatest players can’t outrun it forever.

As much as we hate to admit it, getting older does take a toll on our bodies, and soccer players are no exception.

Once those players hit their thirties, they start feeling it – the aches, the pains, the inability to party all night and still perform on the field the next day.

And let’s not forget about those injuries that just won’t heal as quickly as they used to. It’s like they’ve gone from being world-class players to mere mortals overnight.

And let’s not forget about the loss of speed and resilience. Soccer players used to be lightning on the field, but now they’re more like a gentle summer breeze.

Retirement starts looking pretty sweet when you’re constantly getting outrun by players half your age.

So when those players finally decide to hang up their cleats, don’t be too hard on them.

It’s not like they’re quitting because they want to – they just can’t keep up with the game anymore.

And who knows, maybe they’ll discover a newfound love for golf or wrestling

Wanting To Retire

Sometimes, players simply make up their minds about retiring at an early age.

They just don’t have that same passion for the game they once did and want to move on to other things (like napping).

Some players who have made it to the top already deemed it fit to retire as there’s no more room for them to climb and nothing more to achieve.

Leaving us fanatics to look upon their achievements from afar and argue over their stats and records (while we stuff our mouths with potato chips).


Saved the best for last! This is by far the major reason why soccer players retire so early.

Retiring from soccer due to injury is like getting benched by life itself. Players who suffer injuries often dream of coming back stronger, but alas, fate can be a tough wife to please.

Soccer players are no strangers to injuries – they deal with everything from broken bones to aches and pains.

But the one that really throws a wrench in their career is the dreaded anterior cruciate ligament injury. It’s like a red card from the universe, telling you it’s time to sit out and rethink your game plan.

This injury destabilizes the ligament of the knee and this is regarded as one of the most lethal injuries in sports.

Even after surgery, it takes 6 months to a year for the rehabilitation phase.

Around 60% of soccer players’ injuries are that of the knee which sometimes means an end to their career. 


Final WhistleReasons Why Soccer Players Retire So Early

Cristiano Ronaldo said via Marca after clocking 35 years,

“Physically it will never be a problem. I am treating myself well and I think can play safely for up to 40 years”

As players age, their ability to perform like they used to can take a bit of a dive.

And, soccer is no walk in the park – it demands both physical and mental stamina (which can be in short supply as we get older).

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