It has been a pleasure so far, thank you legends!
Everything that has a beginning has an end and perhaps, only because it ends we keep it preserved in our memories. It doesn’t matter how beautiful it is or it was, everything has an end. End is inevitable; it arrives sooner or later and as it has arrived to complete the respective journeys of these legends of football among many others. The voids that are left behind will never be whole again, because with their farewells a part of every football fan’s life would be gone too. That’s why saying goodbye sucks.
Every football player has made the game beautiful in their own way and it doesn’t matter how much did he achieve but how much did he give to the game and so here are our four picks without whom, some of us wouldn’t even have started loving the game that we so dearly live and breathe.
1) Fernando Torres
Fernando Torres is definitely one of the best strikers to have ever graced the game of beautiful. A product of Atletico Madrid’s famous conveyor belt of exciting attackers, Torres made his Atletico debut at the age of 17. He increasingly became influential at the club, that he first captained the side at the tender age of 19. After 91 goals in less than 250 appearances, Torres earned a move to Merseyside giants, Liverpool.
Even Liverpool turned out to be big Purple Patch. First season, in the league, he scored 24 in his first season in the league and formed an unbelievably good partnership with club legend, Stevie G. His scoring streak decreased but he was still a heavy fan favorite.
Some things changed though, when he moved to Chelsea in the January window of 2011. His form and confidence both took a hit and who can forget that infamous miss against Manchester United. Chelsea had splashed a then record fee in the Premier League of 50 mil pounds. Even with all of his issues with confidence and goal-scoring, he still managed to score the 2nd most important goal in Chelsea’s history, a Champions league semi final goal against Barcelona, a Champions league that they went to win.
After that, it was pretty much downhill with his move to Milan from where he went on loan to Atletico in the winter of 2015. The move was made permanent after a season and he scored 27 goals in his last stint with Atletico. In his last game, he was the captain and scored 2 goals as he bowed out from the Wanda Metropolitano with a warm send off. A true Atletico legend!
Let’s not forget his achievements at the International level too. 2 Euro Cups and 1 World Cup to his name in the Spain’s golden generation of football, Fernando Torres will always be remembered as one of the spear head of Spanish attack. His goal at the Euro 2008 final is still cherished. Farewell El Nino!
2) Gianluigi Buffon
Gigi Buffon is in the purest sense, the Italian role model for every footballer out there. At Juve, he just about faced everything there is in the life of a professional footballer from domestic success to Champions League heartbreak to an unfortunate relegation with Juventus.
Still the world’s most expensive goalkeeper, Juve signed Buffon from Parma at a very young age. And the investment most certainly paid off. One of the best goalkeepers the game has ever seen, Buffon won just about everything with club and country. His long tenure in the top flight of Italian football can be justified by the fact that only Paolo Maldini has made more appearances than the Legendary shot stopper.
He stuck with Juventus in their worst times as an Italian team. The Calciopoli scandal had rocked the Italian football and Juventus were relegated to Serie B for their involvement in the scandal. Every other clubs chased after Buffon given Juventus being relegated but he chose to stay loyal.
In his 17 years with Juventus, he managed to win 11 league titles with Juventus and 19 trophies in total. Along with that, his illustrious career is also signified by the fact that he was the runners up in 2006 Balon D’or standings and 4th in 2017. No goalkeeper after Lev Yashin has had such influence on the game from between the sticks. Along with that Buffon has been the Serie Goalkeeper of the year for a record of 12 times.
On the international level, Gianluigi is a proud world cup winner and has made the most appearances for the Italian national team-176. A true winner and a marvelous leader!
3) Andres Iniesta
Don! Maestro! Magician Iniesta will always be the name every true football fan would remember. Iniesta was the brain and the creative force behind Barcelona’s best period under Pep Guardiola. Along with Xavi, Iniesta provided the perfect platform for the sweet gameplay of Pep to flourish. He also lent a very big hand in maturing a young Lionel Messi supplementing the attack from the middle of the field with his mazy runs.
Iniesta on any day was a delight to watch. That explains why Barcelona has enjoyed so much success with him on the pitch. Iniesta who has won 9 Liga titles and 4 UEFA Champions League titles with this Barcelona team. Yesterday, he played his last ever game for the Catalan Giants. In a heartbreaking moment, he was seen sitting on the Camp Nou pitch way late after the game in the empty stadium. For what were his last ever visit to the magnificent stadium of Camp Nou, his last ever game in his home nation.
Iniesta just like Torres and Buffon is a world cup winner. Who could forget his 2010 WC winning goal that sent the streets of Spain into cloud nine. Along with the World Cup, Iniesta was also instrumental in Spain winning both the Euro 2008 and 2012. In 2012, he was the player of the tournament.
One of the most gifted players ever, Iniesta was successful individually too. 2 Balon D’or podium finishes and another 4th placed finish is a testament to his greatness.
He’ll only be one of the hand-ful of Barcelona players to have ever gotten a standing ovation at the Bernabeu. Nothing more could explain his legacy, gracias Don!
4) Arsene Wenger
It is not only the retirement of the players that hurt, even when the coaches leave it is equally painful and why it wouldn’t be when it is someone like Arsene Wenger. The Frenchman, who was the heartbeat of Arsenal football club for over two decades, started his career with “ArseneWho?” And ended with “Merci Arsene” had many moments of anxiety and discomfort as off late and also had some glorious moments that everyone else seemed to have ignored.
Arsene has won 3 league titles with Arsenal and 7 FA cups, the record which will be very hard to break. He narrowly missed out on the Champions league in 2005-06 beaten by a Barcelona team.
Wenger can proudly claim the achievement of being the only manager in Premier League history to go a season unbeaten a feat he had claimed is possible. He was ridiculed for that obviously but 03-04 season proved everyone wrong and marked Arsene as the football philosopher.
Wenger’s contribution goes beyond material trophies. He probably has the biggest role in globalising football. He came to Arsenal at a time where foreign managers were rocket science and weren’t trusted. He came and made every kind of change at Arsenal. From training to player diets, he overlooked everything. This became the model for this generation’s top managers.
Arsene also helped built Arsenal the glorious Emirates stadium and stabilized the club through its financially turbulent years. Some regard this to be Arsène’s biggest achievement at Arsenal and it’s not hard to see why when you see the current transfer Market.
Thank you for the memories, Arsene.