Best Retired Soccer Players Who Still Matter in 2024

Best Retired Soccer Players Who Still Matter in 2022

Have you heard the quote: Playing football with your feet is one thing, but playing football with your heart is another. Well, the world of football has seen some outstanding players, who even though no longer active, have played with their hearts (and feet), leaving their mark on the game for years to come.

Who are they?

Take a look at our list of the best retired soccer players and learn why they will never be forgotten. 

Francesco Totti

  • Age retired:
    • International football (2007): 30 years old
    • Club football (2017): 40 years old 
  • Current age: 45
  • Current role: Sports agent
  • Career: Fortitudo, Trastevere, Lodigiani, Roma (Youth), Roma (Seniors)
  • Appearances: 786
  • Goals: 307

When you speak of Roma, the first footballer that comes to mind is the great Francesco Totti, who spent almost his whole career with the Italian club. 

Considered one of the greatest number 10 footballers of all time and a legend in Italian football, Totti was renowned for his creative playing style, professional work ethic and goal scoring abilities. 

The Italian striker had a brilliant career, winning the UEFA European Under-21 Championship in 1996 and the FIFA World Cup in 2006, as well as many individual awards like the Golden Foot, European Golden Shoe and Serie A Goalscorer of the Year. His estimated net worth is $101.6 million, making him the eighth richest football player in the world. 

No wonder Roma fans and teammates waved goodbye to the King of Roma on his last match against Genoa with tears in their eyes and a standing ovation. 

Frank Lampard

  • Age retired:
    • International football (2014): 35 years old
    • Club football (2017): 38 years old 
  • Current age: 43
  • Current role: Club manager
  • Career: West Ham United, Swansea, Chelsea, Manchester City, New York FC
  • Appearances: 915
  • Goals: 274

One of the greatest retired football players and definitely the best midfielder ever to grace the Blues ranks, the unbelievable English footballer had an impressive career of over 20 years. 

During that time, Lampard won 3 Premier League titles, the UEFA Champions League, the UEFA Europa League and the domestic cups multiple times. He had some individual achievements, too, like being named FIFA Player of the Year (Silver award), receiving the Ballon d’Or (Silver award), and many more. 

Besides being one of Chelsea’s all-time top scorers, he also played a vital role in England’s national team, representing the squad 106 times. 

After his retirement, Lampard was appointed manager of Derby County and then one year later, he took over his former club Chelsea in their most difficult times, getting them to the final of the 2020 FA Cup.

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David Beckham

  • Age retired:
    • International football (2013): 38 years old
    • Club football (2013): 38 years old 
  • Current age: 46
  • Current role: President and co-owner of Inter Miami CF / co-owner of Salford City
  • Career: Ridgeway Rovers, Tottenham, Brimsdown Rovers, Manchester United, Preston, Real Madrid, LA Galaxy, Milan, PSG (Senior)
  • Appearances: 719
  • Goals: 129

David Beckham is one of the most popular and successful football stars of all time.

During his 20-year career, he won 19 major trophies (including 6 Premier League titles) mostly with Manchester United. Another thing worth mentioning about one of the most famous retired football players is Beckham‘s range of passing, crossing ability and his speciality—free kicks

Widely known not only as a footballer but also as an ambassador for UNICEF UK and a full-fledged celebrity, Beckham made a name for himself thanks to his charismatic personality, dressing style and elaborate hairstyles. Of course, being married to the famous Posh Spice also did a lot to increase his popularity worldwide. 

Last but not least, he is famous for his tattoos, many endorsement deals, and making a few appearances in film in addition to his 719 appearances on the football pitch.


  • Age retired:
    • International football (2018): 37 years old
    • Club football (2018): 37 years old 
  • Current age: 42
  • Current role: Brazilian tourism ambassador
  • Career: Gremio (Youth); Gremio, PSG, Barcelona, Milan, Flamengo, Atletico Mineiro, Queretaro, Fluminense (Senior)
  • Appearances: 699
  • Goals: 266

Ronaldo de Assis Moreira, known as Ronaldinho, is another one of the retired football legends. This skilled Brazilian had an outstanding career playing for big clubs like Barcelona, PSG and Milan, impressing the world with his incredible talent, tricks, dribblings and free kicks.

The stats can vouch for this—Ronaldinho is the only football player in history to win all six major trophies in world football and one of the 8 footballers to have won the UEFA Champions League, the FIFA World Cup and the Ballon d’Or.

He is also known for his official role with UNICEF and charity work, as well as his sponsorships with major brands, earning him around $80-100 million.

Ronaldinho was recently imprisoned for using fake passports. However, this did nothing to dampen his spirit. He even managed to compete in a futsal tournament while incarcerated. His team won. 

Thierry Henry

  • Age retired:
    • International football (2010): 32 years old
    • Club football (2014): 37 years old 
  • Current age: 44
  • Current role: Assistant coach of Belgium National Team
  • Career: Les Ulis, US Palaiseau, Viry-Chatillon, INF Clairefontaine, Monaco (Youth); Monaco, Juventus, Arsenal, Barcelona, New York Red Bulls (Senior)
  • Appearances: 813
  • Goals: 366

Undoubtedly, Thierry Henry has left his mark in the world of football thanks to his spectacular skills and techniques. Throughout his career, this French football star scored 360 goals in 791 matches, most of which came during his time with the Gunners. In fact, Henry,  Arsenal’s all-time leading goalscorer, was so popular that there is even a statue of him at Emirates Stadium. 

He was also instrumental in France winning the World Cup in 1998 and getting the team to the final in 2006. 

Like many of the world’s best managers, Henry turned to coaching after his retirement. He changed several clubs before settling on Belgium’s national team coaching staff. 

Thierry Henry supports a lot of charities and good causes and is a member of the UNICEF-FIFA squad. He also had a number of commercials and sponsorship deals with popular brands, including Nike, Gillette and Pepsi. 

Daniele De Rossi

  • Age retired:
    • International football (2020): 36 years old 
    • Club football (2020): 36 years old 
  • Current age: 38
  • Current role: Technical Assistant for Italy’s U15-U20 Youth
  • Career: Ostia Mare, Roma (Youth); Roma, Boca Juniors (Senior)
  • Appearances: 623
  • Goals: 64

The brilliant Daniele De Rossi is one of Italy’s top defensive midfielders and also one of the most recently retired soccer players. He is best known for his tactical intelligence and versatile playing style. 

De Rossi started his football career when he was just 8 years old at Ostia Mare, before moving to Roma where he spent 18 years, making 459 appearances and scoring 43 goals. These stats make him the second-most capped player for the club, after Totti. 

De Rossi’s international career was also pretty impressive—he set records as the highest-scoring midfielder for the Italian side after World War II and the second highest-scoring midfielder for Italy of all time with 21 goals in 117 national games.

He is currently coaching Italy’s U15 to U-20s and serving as Roberto Mancini’s technical assistant for the national team. His net worth is estimated at $25 million.

Samuel Eto’o

  • Age retired:
    • International football (2014): 33 years old
    • Club football (2019): 38 years old 
  • Current age: 41
  • Current role: President of the Cameroonian Football Federation
  • Career: Kadji Sports Academy, Real Madrid (Youth); Real Madrid, Leganes, Espanyol, Mallorca, Barcelona, Inter, Anzhi, Chelsea, Everton, Sampdoria, Antalyaspor, Konyaspor, Qatar FC (Senior)
  • Appearances: 764
  • Goals: 371

The Cameroonian striker had a remarkable career spanning 27 years. Despite playing for several of the world’s biggest clubs, he is best known for his time with Barcelona, helping them win two Champions League and three La Liga titles.

Eto’o was just as efficient on the national team, scoring 56 goals in 118 matches and winning a gold medal at the 2000 Olympics, as well as getting two AFCON titles. As a result, he was named African Player of the Year four times and elected President of the Cameroonian Football Federation.

He stated that he loved Pep Guardiola as a coach because he learned to play football mostly from him. He also gained a lot of tactical intelligence and versatility playing under Jose Mourinho for whom he has much respect, even though many consider him one of the most hated people in football

Didier Drogba

  • Age retired:
    • International football (2014): 36 years old
    • Club football (2018): 40 years old 
  • Current age: 44
  • Current role: WHO Ambassador for Sports and Health
  • Career: Tourcoing, Abbeville, Vannes, Levallois, Le Mans (Youth); Le Mans, Guingamp, Marseille, Chelsea, Shanghai Shenhua, Galatasaray, Montreal Impact, Phoenix Rising (Senior)
  • Appearances: 679
  • Goals: 297

Didier Drogba, also known as the African King, is the next name on our list of famous retired soccer players.

One of the biggest Chelsea legends, Drogba scored 104 goals for the Premier League club, two of which were made during the Champions League in 2012 leading Chelsea to the title and a moment no fans of the club will ever forget. 

Speaking of achievements, his list of team and individual awards is pretty long, including four Premier League titles, 4 FA Cups, two times African Player of the Year, and many more. The Ivorian striker also captained theIvory Coast at three World Cups and four AFCONS

Aside from football, Drogba is known for his charity and philanthropy work. What’s more, he is credited with playing a crucial role in bringing peace to his country, helping establish a cease-fire after five years of civil war. 

Wayne Rooney

  • Age retired:
    • International football (2017): 32 years old
    • Club football (2021): 35 years old 
  • Current age: 36
  • Current role: Manager of Derby County FC
  • Career: Everton (Youth); Everton, Manchester United, D.C. United, Derby County (Senior)
  • Appearances: 763
  • Goals: 313

Apart from being England’s youngest and leading goalscorer with 53 goals, Wayne Rooney is one of the best strikers of his generation. He is also England’s second most-capped player.

His first home was Everton, before moving to Old Trafford for £25.6 million in 2004, which was the most the Red Devils had paid for a player under the age of 20. During his 13 years with the club, he scored 183 goals in 393 appearances, but he played his best football under Sir Alex Ferguson. 

Before retiring and taking over Derby as their manager, he had a player-manager role at the same club.

A lesser-known fact about the English athlete is that he had a chance to play for Ireland, as his paternal grandmother is Irish, but he stated that he could not lace his boots to play for another country.

Rio Ferdinand

  • Age retired:
    • International football (2013): 31 years old
    • Club football (2015): 36 years old 
  • Current age: 43
  • Current role: Television pundit for BT Sport
  • Career: West Ham United (Youth);  West Ham, Bournemouth, Leeds United, Manchester United, QPR (Senior)
  • Appearances: 709
  • Goals: 13

The final name on the list of best retired soccer players is another Manchester United legend. 

Rio Ferdinand is widely considered one of England’s most decorated and best-ever players. From 6 PL titles, domestic cups, one Champions League to individual awards, like FIFPro World XI, PL Player of the Month and many more, Rio had an amazing career and surely enjoyed every minute of it.

In addition to all these accolades, Rio was one of the most expensive British players and the costliest defenders in the world when he signed a professional contract with Man United in 2002. Today, he is still doing nicely, having a projected net worth of around $75 million

His career was not without controversies, like driving bans, explicit videotapes and using offensive language. Now, a pundit for BT Sport, he covers numerous football matches all over Europe.

Bottom Line

This list of best retired soccer players could be longer as these footballers are just some of the names written in the history of the sport. Over the years, the world has witnessed amazing skills, dribbling, and goals from these 10 and many more footballers. Thankfully, there are always new stars on the rise who might give these football legends and their achievements a run for their money.

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