Football has developed a lot over the course of time. Modern football is much more demanding than the one played in the eighties and nineties. This primarily refers to the pace of the game, because today’s football is much faster than the football that was once played. A large number of matches in various competitions, national team obligations and training, all that requires a lot of effort on the part of the players. Unfortunately, it leads to a great expenditure of players, to fatigue of their muscles, knees, joints, so players often decide to end their careers in their thirties. Most footballers retire at 30 years of age. Moreover, with age players lose their speed and other performance attributes, which are very important for the game. Modern football does not tolerate a player who is slow and cannot follow the pace of the game.
You are not in a position to improvise in today’s football. It requires a high level of preparation and fitness. In addition, the players’ injuries heal more slowly with age. Injured players cannot respond to the tasks of the coach and the schedule of games that today’s football requires. That’s why most footballers decide to end their careers in their 30s. In the eighties and nineties, the pace of football was slower with much less obligations during the season. The schedule of training and obligations was not so tight, so the players could rest more between games. During this era, it was not strange for players to play after they are in their thirties and forties. They had plenty of time to rest and the pace was quite easier to handle than it is today. Why do footballers retire at 30 years?
What are The Reasons for Players Retiring After 30?
No Time for Their Family
There are a number of reasons why footballers retire at 30 years of age. One is that modern football implies a lot of obligations, with a lot of competitive matches where the player does not have enough time to dedicate to his family. Many footballers retire earlier precisely due to this desire to spend more time with their families. Many get fed up with time, because they have achieved everything they wanted and lose the motivation to move on. This also includes the trophies they won and financial security. Nevertheless, these reasons for withdrawal are less significant when compared to others.
Loss of Physical Capabilities
With age, players primarily lose speed and strength. It is difficult for a player in his mid-thirties to race in a game with much younger players. Lack of strength and fitness to respond to the game’s requirements for the entire 90 minutes affects the player’s self-confidence. His/her games are much weaker, which will inevitably result in the loss of pace and energy in the team. A player in his thirties cannot respond to the activities that modern football requires.
Unfortunately, the great efforts that the player made until then were reflected in the wear of muscles, joints, knees, so the player eventually becomes slower and more prone to injuries. Injuries that players receive in those years heal more slowly. Many players whose contracts with clubs expire encounter the problem of engaging in another club. It is difficult for the club to offer a contract to a player in his late playing years and this is why most footballers retire in their 30s.
Notably, the most common reason for the retirement of football players are injuries. Severe injuries unfortunately interrupted the careers of many players. One of the most serious injuries of football players, in addition to a broken leg or arm, is an injury to the anterior cruciate ligaments. It is an extremely strong ligament that serves to stabilize the knee and this is one of the most serious injuries in sports in general. This postoperative injury requires a rehabilitation period lasting from 6 months to a year. About 60 percent of injuries in football are knee injuries. This often happens because of the crampons on the cleats that footballers use.
The crampons provide stability at the shot but the rotational forces are much tougher at the knee. Meniscus and knee injuries have to be treated surgically. Additionally, distortion or spraining of the ankle is a common injury in football. It happens due to contact or awkward movement. Groin pain is something footballers also complain about. Foot injuries are also typical due to contact with opposing players, jumping, shooting or bad equipment. Bone fractures as a result of the opponents’ starts or bad falls. These are some of the most common injuries and as football players grow older, they start experiencing huge problems and challenges.
Can Footballers Continue to Play & Not Retire After the Age of 30?
Although many players end their careers in their mid-thirties, there is a group of players who also played in their forties. One of the most famous is certainly Paolo Maldini. From 1985 to 2009, many players passed through AC Milan, but one was extremely special. The inimitable captain and leader of AC Milan has always captivated other footballers and fans with his calmness and leadership on the field. He was the leader of the team that brought Milan many successes and remained one of the best players in the history of Milan. He ended his career at the age of 41. All that time he played only for Milan, where he made his debut at the age of 17.
Another legendary Italian player ended his career only at the age of 41. It is the phenomenal Roma captain Francesco Totti. The Prince of Rome is renowned for his mastery on the field, great techniques and devastating shots. He is the greatest player in the history of the club from Rome. He dedicated his entire life to Roma, in which he recorded 619 appearances during his career and scored 250 goals. Like Maldini, he left a big mark on the Italian national team, with which he won the title of world champion in Germany in 2006.
Another exceptional football player who played on the Apennine Peninsula and played until he was 41 is the legendary Javier Zanetti. He was the captain of Nero Azure for 15 years. This player, who was characterized by great physical fitness and agility, became one of the best right backs in the history of football. Many famous experts were on the Inter bench, but it was always known who the coach’s extended hand on the field was. Zanetti was the captain of the generation that brought the Champions League trophy in 2010 and won the famous triplet. He eventually retired in 2014.
In addition to these three phenomenal players, there are numerous examples of players who ended their careers in the forties. Legendary Brazilian Rivaldo played football until he was 43 years old. Also, his compatriot Romario played until he was 42 years old. Interesting is the information of Roze Mile, the legendary Cameroonian who played until he was 44 years old. He is the oldest player to score a goal in the history of World Cup. He achieved that when he was 42 years old. Ryan Giggs ended his career at the age of forty. As for the football players who played in England, in addition to Giggs, it is worth mentioning Teddy Seringham and Kevin Phillips.
Why do Goalkeepers Retire Later than Other Footballers do?
It is a famous saying that goalkeepers are like wine, the older the better. Despite footballers retire at 30 and are mature in their twenties, goalkeepers mature in their thirties. Of all the positions in the football team, the goalkeeper’s career is definitely the longest. There are numerous examples of top goalkeepers who defended or still defend in their forties, and the quality of their performances has never declined. The main advantage of the goalkeeper in relation to other players is the space in which they operate. When football players enter their thirties, they lose speed and therefore can no longer answer the tasks that modern football requires. Moreover, during their career there is a great consumption of their muscles, knees, joints, so their performance is at a lower level than previously. There is a huge consumption of strength which is directly related to the game they provide.
First of all, what goalkeepers get in their thirties is experience. An experienced goalkeeper knows how to position himself, what angle he should cover, how to get to the centre kick and when he needs to calm down the game. Unlike football players in other positions, even though they also wear out their joints, knees and muscles, this fact does not reflect so much on their game. The most important is the reflex and the speed of their movement. The goalkeeper will run only a few times during the game, so the fact that their muscle mass is declining does not actually affect them so much. However, the skills needed for a goalie need to be constantly improved.
Famous Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon is defending at the age of 42. Iker Casillas and Edwin van der Sar defended until they were 39 years old. Brad Friedel, who spent most of his career in the English Premier League, defended until the age of 44. There is certainly the legendary Danish goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel, who retired in his forties. Dino Zoff, Peter Shilton, Lev Yashin are some of the most famous names of goalkeepers in the history of football who also defended in their forties. Rogerio Ceni is a famous Brazilian goalkeeper who has scored over a hundred goals in his career and eventually retired at the age of 42.
Due to the large number of competitive matches, training and obligations dictated by modern football, there is a high possibility of injuries that can shorten a player’s career. The pace required by today’s football leads to a huge expenditure of the knees, joints, muscles of the players. Thus, the player in his thirties becomes slower and there is a weakness of performance. Such a situation cannot be associated with goalkeepers who become more mature and experienced in their thirties. Therefore, their careers can no longer be compared to those of players in other positions.
The main reasons for early career termination are injuries such as anterior cruciate ligaments, joint injuries and fractures as they leave a big mark on players. In order for a football player to have a long career, it is necessary for him to be maximally physically ready and for injuries to pass him by during his career. Football is an intensive and tiring sport, and requires a high level of fitness from the players so they can endure all the challenges during their playing time. This is more important after the age of thirty, as the players must exercise and train even more, so they can compensate for the natural loss of strength and speed.