Leaving the sport have never been more emotional than these particular incidents.
Amongst the glitz and glamour of the world of football, it is easy to lionize players to a point that they no longer seem human. In doing this, we forget that at the end of the day, our heroes out there on the pitch are just fans of the game, living out their ultimate fantasies.
When a footballer’s time in the game comes to an end, it can often be an emotional affair, where players and fans share a touching moment –often the most human that the player has ever been on the pitch—before he takes his leave.
We at Khel Now have compiled a list of the top 10 best football farewells of all time.
10. Steven Gerrard (Liverpool FC)
The former Liverpool captain bid farewell to an adoring Anfield crowd in 2015 when his he made his final appearance at the great old stadium in a defeat to Crystal Palace. Gerrard ended a 17 year long association with the club when he walked out, along with his children to a guard of honour and addressed the fans who had supported him right from the time he made his debut as a teenager.
Gerrard would go down in history as one of the best English midfielders of all time.
9. Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus)
Widely regarded as one of the best goalkeepers of all time, Gigi Buffon saw a 17 year stint as Juventus’ first choice goalkeeper come to an end in 2018, when he decided to finally give up his spot at the age of 40 and move to France with Paris Saint-Germain.
The legend waved goodbye to an emotional Turin crowd, who were on their feet in appreciation of the maestro. Teammates and opposition players alike came up to pay homage to what the Italian had done for Juventus’ cause over the years. Buffon would return to Juve after a year in France to serve as the backup goalkeeper should his beloved club ever need his services.
8. Oliver Kahn (Bayern Munich)
The German goalkeeper was legendary for his reputation as a hard-man. He was loud, commanding and above all, completely dedicated to Bayern’s cause. A crack of emotion broke through on what was usually a steely visage as Kahn waved goodbye to the Munich fans after 14 long years and over 400 league appearances for the club.
The camera followed the legend into the dressing room where fans saw a man who loved his club, overcome with emotion.
7. Xavi Hernandez (Barcelona)
The Spanish midfielder had won everything that the game had to offer, from the FIFA World Cup to the UEFA Champions league, when he decided to bring his Barcelona career to an end and move to Qatari club Al Saad in 2015. Xavi was surrounded by his teammates as he fought back tears to address the Camp Nou in what was an emotional affair for fans and players alike.
The midfielder has since been contacted by FC Barcelona to take over the reins of the club as the manager. However, Xavi is not ready to make a return just yet.
6. Didier Drogba (Chelsea)
Didier Drogba finally brought his time at Stamford Bridge to an end in his second spell at Chelsea in 2015. The Ivorian legend maintained an incredible scoring record during his time in the Premier League, winning the league and European titles in the process.
When his time was finally up, Stamford Bridge rose in unison to pay homage to the big Ivorian. He was carried aloft by his Chelsea teammates as he took his final bows.
Drogba would go on to play in the MLS until 2018 when he announced his retirement from the sport.
5. Andreas Iniesta (Barcelona)
Another member of Pep Guardiola’s irresistible Champions League winning Barcelona side, Andreas Iniesta called time on his Barcelona career at the end of the 2017-2018 season. The legendary midfielder, much like his compatriot Xavi, had won everything that was on offer to him over his time at the Camp Nou.
In an emotional farewell, Iniesta handed over the FC Barcelona captain’s armband to Lionel Messi and bid farewell to the stadium he had called home all his life. The farewell also gave rise to one of the most iconic photographs in football history of Iniesta sitting in the middle of an empty Camp Nou.
4. Francesco Totti (AS Roma)
The Italy and Roma legend brought his playing career to an end in 2017, right where he started it. Arguably the epitome of the term, “One club man”, Totti addressed the Roma fans with tears in his eyes as he thanked them for the support that they had shown him over the course of his 618 Serie A appearances for the club.
The attacking midfielder had famously turned down Real Madrid at his peak, opting to stay at his beloved Roma, forever endearing him to the fans of the great old club.
3. Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich)
When Franck Ribery bid farewell to the Allianz Arena at the end of the 2018/2019 campaign after 12 years at the very top of German football, the French footballer’s usually beaming face betrayed a cascade of emotions. The Bayern fans united to say goodbye to their legend, a man who embodied everything the club stood for.
Over his years at the German capital, Ribery won nine Bundesliga titles, 6 DFB Pokals and the Champions League title, making him undoubtedly one of the best players to ever don the famous Bayern colours.
2. Zinedine Zidane (Real Madrid)
Not a club that is renowned for their farewells, the Real Madrid faithful bid au revoir to Zinedine Zidane in 2006. The Frenchman was part of the Galacticos side that boasted the likes of David Beckham, Ronaldo Nazario, Roberto Carlos and Guti to name a few. The Bernabeau was adorned with banners bearing the midfielder’s name as he scored at the home of the Meringues for the final time.
Zindane is currently the manager of the club he called home for five years, having won three Champion’s league trophies as a manager to add to his considerable collection as a player.
1. Sir Alex Ferguson (Manchester United)
While farewells in football are reserved to players for the most part, it would be unfair to leave Sir Alex Ferguson off of this list. The legendary Scot managed Manchester United for 27 years, completely domination the English game in the process. When he retired at the age of 72, Ferguson had built up a record of 13 Premier League titles. When Ferguson decided to step down in 2012, Old Trafford stood up and payed tribute to their legend.
Ferguson’s impact at the club is felt to this day making him, without a shadow of a doubt, the greatest football manager of the club of all time.