The dream of football players is to play until their legs can’t do any more. Or their head in the case of other players. We have seen players like Francesco Totti who have 40 year and still are playing at the first level. The latest retirement of Gerard Piqué from the Spanish National Team has made us think about many other players who had an early international retirement when they still had years and skills to keep on playing.

 

Great players left their country national team with the feeling that they still had football on their feet. Here are some, according to the Spanish digital paper AS.com of some great players that had an early international retirement.

 

Juan Román Riquelme (Argentina)

Juan Román Riquelme was one of the greatest number 10 ever
Juan Román Riquelme was one of the greatest number 10 ever

The “last 10” retired many times before, but the definite one was in 2009 when Diego Armando Maradona was in front of the Argentinian national team. He had major differences with the coach, despite being two of the greatest that had played in Argentina and in Boca Juniors.

 

Michael Ballack (Germany)

Michael Ballack (right) had some issues with Joachim Low (left)
Michael Ballack (right) had some issues with Joachim Low (left)

One of the best midfielders in the world led Germany to the World Cup final in 2002 and in the European Championship in 2008. Also leading his team to the semifinal in 2006. Before the World Cup in 2010 he had some misunderstanding with the still Bavarian coach, Joachim Low.

 

Dennis Bergkamp (Netherlands)

His fear of flying made Dennis Bergkamp retire
His fear of flying made Dennis Bergkamp retire

 

 

One of the greatest dutch players ever to played the game had an early international retirement for a non sport reason. The player had aerophobia (fear of flight) and was unable to travel with the team on every flight distance matches. Before the 2002 World Cup he decided to retire because he was going to be unable to travel with the team, and preferred to leave and give a chance to other players. He was 30 years.

 

 

 

 

 

Johan Cruyff (Netherlands)

The legendary number 14 led his team to practice one of the most beautiful football ever seen
The legendary number 14 led his team to practice one of the most beautiful football ever seen

 

The Dutch and Barcelona player refuse to represent his country in the 1978 World Cup held in Argentina. His team was playing at the highest level and was clear favorite to win the competition. In 1974 he had already hint that he would retire from international football, and after giving it a lot of thought he decided not to go to Argentina. Many said he was against the political situation in the country, other say it was a sponsorship problem (since he was Puma and Adidas was the team sponsor). But, at the end, it was that his family had suffered a breaking and entering in their home, so he decided to stay home with his kids.

 

 

Fernando Redondo (Argentina)

Fernando Redondo played for Real Madrid and AC Milan
Fernando Redondo played for Real Madrid and AC Milan

Before the France World Cup in 1998, the Argentinian midfielder decided to quit the team. Being one of the best in the world, his presence was a sure thing. Passarella was the coach at the time, and had a rule about all the players having short hair. Rumors are that Redondo refused to his demand and decided to resign.

 

Franck Ribery (France)

Franck Ribery was one of the best players in the 2006 World Cup
Franck Ribery was one of the best players in the 2006 World Cup

After losing in the 2006 final and being kicked out in the first round in 2010, the French player decided that the 2014 World Cup would be his time to shine. An injury left him out of the final 23 players to attend Brazil. After that he decided that it was enough and t was time to concentrate only in his club, Bayern Munich.

 

Bernd Schuster (Germany)

Schuster was set aside for missing a friendly match at age 24
Schuster was set aside for missing a friendly match at age 24

Perhaps the youngest of every player on this list. He decided to retire at the young age of 24 after missing a friendly because he rather stayed home with his wife during the birth of his third child. This event caused Schuster to never go back to play with the German national team. At just 24 years old.

 

Watching the early international retirement of Gerard Piqué, we find that he’s not the first and surely won’t be the last one. Players decide to retire every day in football but the question is why would they do that.