Football has lost much: Hazard and three other skillful players who ended their careers in 2023

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One of the most challenging and touching aspects of the football world is bidding farewell to legendary performers who retire from the sport. It is especially difficult to say goodbye to those who may not have fully realized their potential, leaving a sense of unfulfillment. Like Eden Hazard. In this piece, we’ll reminisce about the Belgian and three other players who concluded their careers last year.

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Eden Hazard

Last Club: Real Madrid

Age at Retirement: 32

At the beginning of his career, Hazard impressed with his talent in Ligue 1, keeping Lille at the top of the table despite the presence of the wealthy PSG. The peak of his success came during his time at Chelsea in the Premier League, where his dribbling and drawn fouls were unprecedented. However, after his transfer to Real Madrid for a massive €160 million, his positive qualities disappeared, and extra kilograms appeared. Hazard realized that his dream had come true, relaxed, and faced regression.

Despite this, there were more positive moments in Hazard’s career than negatives. Listing all his achievements could be endless. It’s worth noting that at the peak of his form, Hazard was unparalleled in individual skills and dazzled on the field. Unfortunately, this period lasted only until the age of 28. After a victorious double in the Europa League final against Arsenal (4-1) in the 2018/2019 season, we no longer witnessed great performances from Eden. The Belgian decided not to torment himself and his fans any longer and retired at a relatively young age.

Cesc Fàbregas

Last Club: Como

Age at Retirement: 36

Football and Cesc’s passes are pure aesthetics. At the age of 16, he became the youngest debutant and top scorer for Arsenal under the guidance of Arsène Wenger. The following year, he threw a piece of pizza at Sir Alex after a defeat to Manchester United, which became an accidental incident. Fàbregas seamlessly replaced Patrick Vieira, showcasing creativity instead of toughness. His magic helped the Gunners reach the 2006 UEFA Champions League final.

Transfers to Barcelona, Chelsea, and Monaco made Fàbregas less prominent, but his career was rich in trophies. Now he has embarked on a coaching career, ending his playing career at Como in Serie B and soon taking charge of a team vying for promotion.

Joaquín Sánchez

Last Club: Real Betis

Age at Retirement: 41

Playing in La Liga after the age of 40, without being a goalkeeper, is a feat achieved only by legends. Last season, Joaquín played 22 league matches and 7 in the Europa League! Thanks to a healthy lifestyle, the veteran gave up flour and sweets, maintaining a strict routine. He became the oldest hat-trick scorer and assist provider in the league. Sánchez set a record for the number of matches played in Spain — 622. Moreover, he scored in 18 different La Liga seasons — a feat matched only by him and Ramos.

Theo Walcott

Last Club: Southampton

Age at Retirement: 34

The swift winger Theo Walcott left the Premier League alongside his hometown club Southampton, failing to find a new team for himself. Walcott understood that it was time to stop, although he admitted that it was scary to make such a decision. Now he works as an expert on Sky Sports after having a successful career in the football world.