The year 2021 had just ended and during its course saw some cracks of our generation call it quit. While most retired due to aging, a particular player had to retire due to health reasons. Hence, this article spotlights some great players of our time who have also enjoyed a long lasting career, most of whom retired in this new decade.

Sergio Aguero del Castillo

The first name on our list is former Barcelona, Manchester City and Atletico Madrid striker Sergio Kun Aguero. Beyond doubts the Argentine hitman who recently retired due to health reasons merits the list. The stoppage time league winning striker in the 2011/12 Premier League season will be evergreen in the heart and mind of every football fan.

Aguero celebrates a stoppage-time winner to win Manchester City’s first league title

Aguero took Europe by storm on his €23m arrival from Independiente and earned a spot among the greatest strikers of his generation and one of the greatest players in the history of the Premier League.

Aguero made a name for himself winning the Don Balón, the Golden Boy, and the World Soccer Young Player of the Year the UEFA Europa League and the UEFA Super Cup while in Madrid as well as a record six EFL Cups, an FA Cup, and reached the Manchester City’s maiden UEFA Champions League final. He is also Premier league all-time foreign topscorer and his 13 hat-tricks are the most scored by any Premier League player.

Sergio Aguero in Barcelona colours before retiring

On the international scene, del Castillo also made a name for himself winning the 2021 Copa America for Argentina.

Unfortunately, he had to retire at 33 due to a heart condition.

In all Aguero played 768 games scored 421 goals and provided 165 assists

Wayne Mark Rooney

Another name on the list is Former Man United and Everton star Wayne Rooney. Although the Englishman made his mark playing for Sir. Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, his Everton roots can’t be ignored.

He is the manager of EFL Championship club Derby County, for whom he previously served as interim player-manager. He spent much of his playing career as a forward but was versatile, being used in various midfield roles.

Wayne Rooney in his last days for Derby County

Netted 28 goals as a teenager for Everton before making a £25.6million move to Man United. Rooney is Manchester United’s all-time leading scorer and the only player to have scored 250 goals for the Reds.

The Liverpool-born etched his name in United’s history books winning 16 trophies while becoming the only English player, alongside teammate Michael Carrick, to win the Premier League, FA Cup, UEFA Champions League, League Cup, UEFA Europa League, and FIFA Club World Cup. His 208 Premier League goals make him the Premier League’s second-top scorer of all time and his 183 league strikes for Manchester United made his the then all-time league scorer for a single club, a feat Sergio Aguero’s 184 goals later eclipsed.

Rooney returned to Everton after leaving United, then he had a stint with DC United where he scored a long range effort before retiring at Derby County.

Rooney won the PFA Players’ Player of the Year and the FWA Footballer of the Year awards for the 2009–10 season, and he was named Premier League Player of the Month five times throughout his career. He finished fifth in the vote for the 2011 FIFA Ballon d’Or, and he was named in the FIFA FIFPro World XI for 2011. He won the Goal of the Season award by the BBC’s Match of the Day poll on three occasions, and his February 2011 bicycle kick against city rivals Manchester City won the Premier League 20 Seasons Awards Best Goal award.

In all he featured in 887 games, netted 366 goals and provided 205 assists.

Arjen Robben

The third player on the list is former Chelsea, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich star Arjen Robben.

Robben first broke onto the world scene with Groningen, for whom he was player of the year for the 2000/01 Eredivisie season. Two years later he signed for PSV, where he became the Netherlands’ Young Player of the Year and won an Eredivisie title. Following a heated transfer battle, Chelsea secured his signature. Although he didn’t make his debut for Chelsea immediately because of Injury, he helped Chelsea bring home two consecutive Premier League titles, and was the Premier League Player of the Month in November 2005.

A young Robben in the Dutch national team colours

Injuries plagued his third season at Stamford Bridge before he moved to Real Madrid €35 million. He later found his way to Bayern for €25 million where he could call a resting place. He won 20 trophies, including eight Bundesliga titles and five DFB Pokals. He was also included in the FIFPRO eleven in 2014 alongside a fourth place Balon d’or finish.

Robben notably appeared at the 2010 World Cup final as his Dutch team finished second.

He returned to his boyhood club Groningen at the Twilight of his career before announcing his retirement from Football in 2021. His career totals 712 games where he netted 246 goals and created 220 assists.

Robben in Groningen shirt in 2021

Sami Khedira

The German midfielder began his career at VfB Stuttgart, and won the Bundesliga in 2007 before moving to Real Madrid in 2010. He spent  five seasons in Spain and he went on to win seven domestic and international trophies, including the UEFA Champions League in 2014. In 2015, he moved to Italian side Juventus on a free transfer, and won the Serie A title and Coppa Italia in his first three seasons with the club, followed by two more league titles and a Supercoppa Italiana.

Khedira from the time he signed for Juventus

It’s also been great on the national team also since as he earned 77 caps for the national team. He has taken part at three FIFA World Cups and two UEFA European Championships with Germany, and was part of their squads which reached the semi-finals at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, as well as the 2012 and 2016 UEFA European Football Championships; he also won the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

He retired last year after a stint with Hertha Berlin.

Khedira in action for Hertha BSC before retiring

Mario Manzukich

Mario Manzukich makes the cut in this article to complete the quintet we’re spotlighting.

Now a Croatian football coach, he previous played as a forward. He is currently an assistant to Zlatko Dalić in the Croatia national team. 

Having began from Marsonia, Manzukich played for both Zagreb sides NK and Dinamo where he rose to prominence when he was the league’s topscorer in the 2008/09 season. He moved to Wolfsburg in Germany that summer and eventually to Bayern Munich in 2012 after a brilliant display at the Euro 2012 where he was the topscorer. He went on to become the first Croatian to score in a Champions League final when he netted against Borrusia Dortmund in 2013 UCL Der Klassiker final. He won five trophies at Bayern; including Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal, and the Champions League.

Manzukich’s overhead kick in the Champions league final against Real Madrid

He left Bayern for Atletico in 2014 and then completing a switch to Juventus in 2015. He netted an an overhead kick arching past the keeper that earned him UEFA Goal of the Season award for Juventus in the 2017 UCL final against Real Madrid. He left Juve for Al-Durhail in Qatar but terminated his contract as he struggled to adapt , he returned to Europe to play for AC Milan in January 2021 and later retired the same year.

For the national team it’s been a great story for Manzukich who went on to become Croatia’s second all-time after Davor Suker. He also scored in the 2018 world cup final.

He was named Croatian footballer of the year in 2012 and 2013.

Dutch Klas Jan Huntelaar and Frencb Samir Nasri are amongst other notable players to call it quit last year. With the decade just beginning, it is beyond doubts that more big names will hang their boots.