Sportsmen play their heart out on the field, but off-field, their fans struggle at a similar pace - all thanks to a strong emotional connection with their favorites. The worst phase in any athletes’ career has to be their retirement. Right from the beginning of his career to the end, it is no less than an adventurous roller-coaster. Having said that, all the sports players commence their journey as a champion and end on a similar note. As the year 2018 draws closer, we look back at such champions from various fields, who bid farewell to the game after serving it for a long time.
#1 AB De Villiers
In a surprising decision on May 23, South Africa's star batsman AB de Villiers announced his retirement from international cricket. The right-handed batsman played 114 Test matches, 228 ODIs and 78 T20 internationals for South Africa and scored over 20,000 runs for his country. De Villiers made the announcement on Twitter via a video message for the fans. Talking about his decision, de Villiers said he was ‘tired’ and ‘running out of gas’ and thought it was the right time to move on.
#2 Dwayne Bravo
West Indies’ all-rounder Dwayne Bravo made an expected announcement of his retirement from international cricket. However, he will continue to play the T20 franchise. At 35 years of age, Bravo has mostly been out of the international West Indies side due to numerous issues with the West Indies Cricket Board. In his career of 14 years and 270 international matches, Bravo has scored more than 6000 runs while taking 337 wickets proving to be an all-rounder, for his nation.
#3 Alastair Cook
Former England captain and opener Alastair Cook announced his retirement from international cricket on September 3. Cook achieved a unique feat of making a fifty and a hundred in both his debut and final Test match. He also surpassed Sri Lankan Kumar Sangakkara to become the fifth highest Test run scorer of all time.
#4 Gautam Gambhir
One of India’s best openers and now a former cricketer, Gautam Gambhir, on December 4, announced his retirement from the Indian cricket team. Gautam took to his social media accounts and released the news via an 11-minute video. Gambhir’s cricketing career went through about 58 Tests, 147 ODIs and 37 T20 internationals for the Indian cricket team. During his IPL journey, he also captained teams like Kolkata Knight Riders and Delhi Daredevils. Gautam had a huge contribution in India’s successful campaign at the 2007 T20 World Cup and the 2011 World Cup, where he was among the top scorers.
#5 Fernando Alonso
The Spanish two-time world champion, Fernando Alonso announced his retirement from Formula 1 at the end of the season. He began his career with a debut for Minardi at the Australian Grand Prix of 2001. Fernando is considered as one of the best drivers to ever grace an F1 cockpit. “After 17 wonderful years in this amazing sport, it’s time for me to make a change and move on,” said Alonso on his retirement.
#6 Manu Ginobili
Manu Ginobili is a former Argentine professional footballer announced his retirement on August 27, 2018. Ginobili’s career lasted 23 seasons in all, starting with stints in Italy and his native Argentina before he came to San Antonio in 2002. In his career, he became one of only two players, along with Bill Bradley, to have won a EuroLeague title, an NBA championship and an Olympic gold medal.
#7 Xavi Hernandez
Former Barcelona midfielder Xavi Hernandez has decided to bid a farewell, stating that this will be the last season of his playing career. Talking about his retirement decision, Xavi said, "99% this is my final season because at nearly 39 years old it is normal to be tired and have to change the path.” Xavi has spent a whopping 24 years at Barcelona where he won eight LaLiga titles, three Copa Del Rey crowns and four Champion League winners’ medals.
#8 Didier Drogba
The former Ivorian striker confirmed his retirement from the game on November 8, 2018. Didier has won four Premier League titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups and a Champions League with Chelsea. He was also Ivory Coast’s all-time top scorer.
#9 Robin Van Persie
The former Arsenal and Manchester United player Robin van Persie is all set to retire by the end of this season. The striker helped United to the Premier League title in Sir Alex Ferguson’s last season at the club and finished the campaign as the top scorer with 26 goals. He has scored 50 goals in 102 matches for his country.
The Brazilian World Cup winner Ronaldinho, announced his retirement from soccer in early 2018, at the age of 37. Ronaldinho began his career with Gremio in Brazil before joining PSG in 2001.
Here’s pretty much about it. What do you guys think? In the coming year, which sports players are in for a surprising retirement?