Soccer Retirement: Young or Old Player’s Game

Soccer players retire from the game due to injury and age. The average age that an outfield player retires is 35 and for a goalkeeper, it’s 38 years old.

The career of a soccer player can be short in comparison to a normal person. Many of us that are working will expect to retire in their 60’s and some will continue in their 70’s.

With the age of retirement growing ever older, it’s a different game for sports professionals.

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Soccer player retirement age?

Since there’s a lot more money in the game, soccer players that make it as pros can retire after they’ve played the game. It wasn’t always the case and it won’t be the same for those players in the lower leagues.

Many will have a break after soccer, but will eventually need to return to work in order to support themselves.

Early Retirement – Injury

The physical demands of a soccer game can take their toll on players. One bad injury can cause severe problems, enough to halt their career. The pain can be too much to continue or their body can’t rise to the level required.

There are fewer cases of early retirement with the advancement of science and surgery. Ligament, cartilage, and other debilitating injuries can be repaired by a surgeon.

Injury can cause retirement at any age, which can be down to luck, accident, incident, or even poor preparation. Injuries that have caused this group of players to retire are knee ligament, compound fracture, knee injury, double leg compound fracture, broken ankle, double leg break, and cruciate ligaments.

We can do our best to prevent injuries with training, diet, recuperation, and know-how. But, sometimes players are unlucky.

Retirement for Older Players

Some player’s key feature is their pace. Without that extra yard of pace to be able to beat a player, they lose what brought them to the top.

If a player has many attributes to their game, like passing, shooting, reading the game, they can prolong their career. So they can use their experience to carry on playing longer than others.

Wise soccer players that have a ‘soccer brain’ are a valuable asset. They can read the game quicker than the younger ones. Enabling them to make quicker decisions on the field, which can decide a game.

When a player reaches their 30’s, retirement is often not too far away. Depending on how they have looked after their body, will affect how much longer they can play.

Players can continue after they’ve dropped from their peak by playing in the lower leagues or to a different country where the competition is less.

Normal retirement for a soccer player is from 33 to 37 years old. The average age of retirement is 35 years old.

What age do goalkeepers retire?

Goalkeepers require different physical attributes to play soccer, they don’t need to sprint like the other outfield players. The sprinting aspect is normally one that halts a players’ career which allows them to continue on for a few more years.

There is a balance though, in comparison to outfield players, goalkeepers normally get a place in the side when they are 25 and over because there is one position and it takes years of experience to perform to the highest level.

The following chart, brought together by u/Its_Louis on Reddit, collected the data from FIFA to demonstrate when the goalkeepers retire. The majority of them play on till they’re 38 and then retire in the following years.

AgeGoalkeeper Percentage Of Retiring (%)
Goalkeeper Retirement Ages – By Percentage.

Goalkeepers often play on till their 40’s and their knowledge of the game is a valuable asset to the team. They can direct the backline to minimize the threat.

One legend of the game that is still playing is Gianluigi Buffon of Juventus, born in 1978 but still top of his game.


Soccer is a fundamental part of a player’s life, they sleep, eat, train soccer. So what do they do when they retire? For many professionals it’s a fear of the unknown – they lose their status and their routine.

Many players will continue on in the game as a coach, pundit, advisor, or anything related. Because of their love of the game and they feel they’ve got more to offer with the experience they have.

For others, they will be glad to put their feet up and rest those weary legs that have been drained for many years.

Related Questions

Why do soccer players retire so early?
Soccer at the professional level requires the best athletes and the human body performs the best in the ’20s and ’30s. At 40 onwards it’s difficult to maintain the speed.

What age do soccer players peak?

Soccer players mostly peak in their late 20s from 27 to 29. There are many players that hit their peak earlier and some into their 30s. It depends on the type of player and their development.

What age do female soccer players retire?

Female soccer players retire slightly earlier than males and from the chart below – taken from the playing age of females at the 2012 Olympics, there is a sharp drop-off at the age of 30, indicating the average retirement age of 30.

Female soccer player's age in London 2012 Olympic Games

Is 40 too old to play soccer?

If you in shape physically and you are still contributing to your team, it’s not too old to play. Many great players have been effective at 40 when playing soccer.

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