There are several reasons a soccer player may be running on his last legs. These include age, constant injuries, and a drop in their on-field form. In some cases it could be a combination of the three. The below list deals with 15 soccer stars who are running on their last legs. These are current or former stars who appear to be near the end of the line for one reason or another.
In fact, some of these players realize themselves that their time in the spotlight is up and have announced they’ll soon be hanging up their boots. Most of them are still with top-level teams, but a few have fallen from grace to lower-tiered leagues. In addition, many of those who are still with elite clubs are finding it hard to get a game these days.
These are players whose soccer careers seem to be nearing the end, not just their days with their current club. For example, it could be safe to say that Wayne Rooney is on his last legs at Manchester United, but at the age of 31 you can bet he’ll end up with another club if he leaves. The 15 players below likely won’t be as fortunate and once they wave goodbye to their current teams that should be the end of their pro playing days.
15 Kazuyoshi Miura
Japan’s Kazuyoshi Miura, better known as ‘Kazu’ has got to slow down sometime soon as he’s now 50 years old and has been playing pro since 1986. However, he just made world headlines in March, 2017 and went into the history books after becoming the oldest pro soccer player to score a goal. Miura is playing for Yokohama FC in J League-2 in his homeland. Kazu scored the game winner against Thespa Kustasu at the age of 50 years and 14 days, which broke the former record for oldest goalscorer held by Sir Stanley Matthews of England who was 50 years and five days old when netting a goal back in 1965. Kazu’s now in his 32nd pro season and the former international never got to play in a World Cup despite scoring 55 goals for Japan in 89 games.
14 Tim Cahill
Aussie Tim Cahill is probably the best soccer player to come from Down Under and he’s still booting the ball around at the age of 37. Cahill is playing for Melbourne City of Australia’s A-League after stints in England, the MLS and China. The attacker is Australia’s all-time leading scorer with 48 goals in 96 games and still plays for the national squad. Cahill’s still quite an effective player, but he realizes he’s on his last legs as he signed a three-year deal with Melbourne in the summer of 2016 with the idea of playing for the first two years and then moving into management. However, if he keeps playing the way he has been there’s a good chance the club will try to talk him into staying on the pitch for another year or two.
13 Joe Cole
Unfortunately for English midfielder Joe Cole he went from hero to zero in just a few years. The 35-year-old once starred the national team and played almost 300 games for Chelsea while wining a total of 10 trophies with the London club. These included a trio of Premier League titles along with a pair of FA Cups and League Cups. Things went downhill for Cole after joining Liverpool on a free transfer in 2010 and he soon found himself on loan with Lille in France. He then bounced around England with a few lower-division teams from 2013 to 2016 before signing with the Tampa Bay Rowdies of the United Soccer League, where he still plays. Cole played for England 56 times from 2001 to 2010 and appeared in three World Cups, but his career went downhill from there.
12 Robbie Keane
The Republic of Ireland’s all-time leading scorer is striker and former captain Robbie Keane with 68 goals in 146 matches. The 36-year-old found the back of the net no matter where he played as he’s bulged the twine well over 350 times for the likes of Leeds United, Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and West Ham in England as well as Scottish giants Celtic and the Los Angeles Galaxy of MLS. Keane is a well-deserved legend in Ireland and with most of the clubs he’s played at, but his career is now paused at best and over at worst. He left LA for some reason after the 2016 campaign after scoring 104 goals in 165 games with the team and helping them win an MLS Cup. Keane isn’t retired, but his career’s in limbo as he’s failed to sign with anybody.
11 Shay Given
Yes, 41-year-old goalkeeper Shay Given of the Republic of Ireland is still around as he’s currently playing with Stoke City of the English Premier League. Like Robbie Keane, he’s an Irish legend who recorded 52 clean sheets in 134 games for his country. Given made a name for himself in England with Newcastle United before moving on to Manchester City, Aston Villa, Middlesbrough and now Stoke. However, he rarely plays anymore since signing a two-year deal with Stoke. Given missed most of the 2015-16 season with an injury, but was Stoke’s starting keeper in 2016-17 until losing his job early in the campaign following a few below-par performances. Given played 20 years for Ireland before finally retiring for good from international soccer in 2016. He’s one of the best, but his pro days are numbered.
10 Esteban Cambiasso
Midfielder Esteban ‘Cuchu’ Cambiasso currently holds the record for winning the most trophies in history for an Argentine player. The 36-year-old has won 23 different team honours during his career with most of them coming while playing for a decade with Inter Milan in Italy. Cambiasso also played 52 times for Argentina including the 2006 World Cup and has had stints with Real Madrid and England’s Leicester City. Cambiasso’s still playing, but not with soccer’s cream of the crop anymore as he’s suiting up with Olympiakos in Greece, where he’s been since 2015. The defensive midfielder isn’t a regular starter at this point in his career, but still plays his fair share of games. However, at his advanced age, he’ll be 37 in August, there’s a good chance he’ll be released when his current contract expires.
9 Roberto Acuna
Although he’s been involved with beach soccer for a few years now, 45-year-old Roberto Acuna of Argentina is still playing with Rubio Nu in his adopted homeland of Paraguay. The central midfielder joined the team in January after leaving Deportivo Recoleta last October. Acuna played a century of games for the Paraguayan national team and appeared in three World Cups. The 2001 Paraguayan Footballer of the Year played in both Argentina and Paraguay and back in 2007 he retired from the game. However, he returned two years later and also played internationally until 2011 as the captain of Paraguay. Acuna just turned 45 in March and this will likely be his last kick at the can for traditional soccer, though he may continue to star in the beach version of the game.
8 Paul Robinson
Paul Robinson was arguably one of the England’s best goalkeepers since Gordon Banks. Things turned sour for him internationally though during a Euro 2008 qualifier in 2006 when Gary Neville’s back pass hit a bump in the pitch and ended up in the back of Robinson’s net as the keeper helplessly swung his foot at the ball. The incident seemed to shake Robinson’s confidence and he retired from international soccer just three years later after playing 41 games between 2003 and 2007. Robinson is now 37 and still in the English Premier League with Burnley FC, but has played less than a handful of games 2016-17. He turned pro with Leeds at the age of 18 and went on to star for Tottenham Hotspur and Blackburn Rovers, but it’s hard to see Robinson playing past this season.
7 Ze Roberto
He’s still in great shape for a 42-year-old, but defender/midfielder Ze Roberto of Brazil must soon be ready to call it quits. He’s starred for some of soccer’s biggest clubs such as Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Hamburg and Bayer Leverkusen and won just about everything imaginable at the club level including a European Champions League along with four German Bundesliga crowns and a Spanish La Liga title. He made 84 appearances for Brazil between 1995 and 2006 and played in three World Cups. Unfortunately for Ze Roberto, he wasn’t chosen for Brazil’s 2002 World Cup squad and the team went on to win the tournament. Ze Roberto joined Palmeiras in Sao Paulo Brazil in 2014 and is still playing there and doing quite well. But this could be his swansong as his contract runs out in 2017.
6 Didier Drogba
Powerful Didier Drogba of Ivory Coast became a top striker with England’s Chelsea from 2004 to 2012. The two-time African Footballer of the Year started his pro career in France in 1998 and just turned 39 years old. Drogba is Chelsea’s fourth all-time leading scorer and he also banged in 65 goals for Ivory Coast in 104 games between 2002 and 2014. He left Chelsea in 2012 before rejoining the London club two years later. He was a shell of his former self though and headed to MLS to score 21 goals in 33 games with Montreal Impact in 2015 and 2016. Drogba had attitude problems in Montreal though and refused to play for the team late in 2016. He’s now with Phoenix Rising of the lower-tiered United Soccer League where he’s reportedly a part owner.
5 Dimitar Berbatov
Bulgarian striker Dimitar Berbatov is all dressed up with nowhere to go as he’s currently hoping to land a contract somewhere. The 36-year-old has a fine resume as he’s the former captain of Bulgaria and the nation’s all-time leading goalscorer with 48 markers in 78 games. He was also the Bulgarian Footballer of the Year for a record seven times and starred with some top clubs such as Bayer Leverkusen, Tottenham Hotspur, Fulham, and Monaco. He won the Golden Boot with Man United in 2010/11 as well as a pair of Premier League titles with the club. But while he’s scored over 300 goals in his career, Berbatov has a reputation as being a bit of a lazy player and when you combine that with his age, he may have a hard time finding a new team.
4 Philipp Lahm
Defender Philipp Lahm of Germany has spent his entire career with Bayern Munich of the Bundesliga with a brief loan spell at Stuttgart and is Bayern’s skipper. The versatile player has won seven league titles as well as a Champions League crown and will likely add an eighth German championship with Bayern this season. However, it looks like this will be Lahm’s last season in pro soccer. He already retired from the international game in 2014 after 113 games with Germany and three World Cups with many of them being as acting captain. And although he’s just 33 years old, Lahm said he’s ready to hang up his boots this year. It’s unclear if he’ll stay true to his word though, but if he does, he’ll be remembered as one of his generation’s best players.
3 John Terry
Controversial defender and captain John Terry is still with Chelsea of the English Premier League, but the former England skipper rarely sees the pitch these days. Terry has been an icon at Stamford Bridge since 1998 and will go down as one of Britain’s best-ever defenders, but his time in the game could be almost up. Terry’s not the oldest player on this list as he’s 36, but it appears if he does play after the 2016-17 season it would likely be somewhere in North America in MLS. Terry has won a ton of trophies with Chelsea, but lost the respect of some fans when he was found guilty of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand of Queens Park Rangers in 2012. Terry was twice stripped of the England captaincy for alleged bad off-field behaviour and he retired from international soccer in 2012.
2 Xabi Alonso
According to Spanish legend Xabi Alonso, the 2016-17 campaign will be his last in pro soccer. The legendary midfielder debuted in 2000 with Real Sociedad and then headed to England in 2004 to play with Liverpool. He won the European Champions League with the Reds before joining Real Madrid in his homeland from 2004 to 2009 where he won another Champions League medal and a La Liga title. The 35-year-old’s been with German Bundesliga powerhouse Bayern Munich since 2014 and should win his third league title there this season. Alonso played 114 games for Spain and won two European Championships and a World Cup with his homeland before retiring from international duty in 2014. Alonso still has the skill to compete at the top level, but has decided his body’s had enough.
1 Francesco Totti
The latest star to announce he’s packing it in is Italian legend Francesco Totti, the captain of AS Roma. The 40-year-old midfielder-turned striker has been with Roma for his entire pro career and has scored over 300 goals for the club while winning several trophies including a league title. Totti was just 16 when making his first team debut back in 1993. He played 58 times with Italy from 1998 to 2006 and won the World Cup with the squad in his final international year. Totti struggled somewhat while playing with his homeland though with just nine goals to his name. He’s a world soccer legend and also the oldest player to score in the European Champions League. But after a quarter century, Totti’s legs will appreciate the rest and he’ll work in Roma’s front office.