Soccer Retirement: Young or Old Player’s Game

The average age a soccer player retires is 35, due to injury, loss of pace, or new opportunities as a coach, manager, or commentator.

Soccer players retire from the game due to injury, age, and also other career interests.

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.

Below is an image of an all-time great soccer player who continued to play for AC Milan till the age of 41.

Paolo Maldini of AC Milan During Italian Soccer Serie a Season 201920, Italian Serie a Soccer Match in Cagliari, January 01 2020
Paolo Maldini of AC Milan During Italian Soccer Serie a Season 201920, Italian Serie a Soccer Match in Cagliari, January 01 2020

What age do female soccer players retire?

Female soccer players retire slightly earlier than males on average at 30 years old.

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
Women’s 2012 World Cup Player Age Chart
x
Ronaldo

What age do goalkeepers retire?

Goalkeepers retire at 38 years old on average, which is 3 years older than an outfield soccer player.

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’re 25 and over.

This is because there is one position and it takes years of experience to perform to the highest level.

Why do soccer players retire so early?

Soccer retirement seems early but, soccer is a fast and physical game and humans slowly lose the qualities required to compete with the younger players.

Soccer at the professional level requires the best athletes and the human body performs the best in the ’20s and ’30s.

From 40 onwards it’s difficult to maintain the speed.

Why do male soccer players retire at 35?

Soccer players reach their peak age in their late 20’s and from 30 onwards they slowly lose the physical qualities required as a pro.

Since there’s a lot more money in the modern 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 from soccer due to Injury

Early retirement for a soccer player can happen when the pain is too much for players to continue or their body can’t reach the level required.

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.

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 soccer players to retire are;

  • knee ligament
  • compound fracture
  • knee injury
  • double-leg compound fracture
  • broken ankle
  • double leg break
  • cruciate ligaments.

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

What makes a soccer player want to retire without injury?

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

The average age a soccer goalkeeper retires

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 (%)
346%
3512%
3725%
3858%
3979%
4088%
4195%
42+100%
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 more effectively.

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

What do soccer players do after retiring?

Many players will continue on in the game as a coach, pundit, advisor, or anything in the game of soccer.

Most soccer players don’t want to retire as professionals because of a fear of the unknown and their future – they lose their status and their routine.

Soccer is a fundamental part of a player’s life, they sleep, eat and, train for soccer. So what do they do when they retire?

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.

Is 40 too old to play soccer?

If you’re in shape physically and you are still contributing to your team, 40 is not too old to play soccer.

Many great players have been effective at 40 when playing soccer.

Ryan Gigg retired from the professional level of playing for Manchester United at 40 years old. He could have easily carried on for a few more years at a smaller team.

As mentioned before, the great Maldini retired as a pro at the age of 41 – so there’s still time to play, for most of us.

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.

READ MORE

BEST SOCCER PRODUCTS

adidas 2019 MLS Official Match Ball White/Silver Metallic/Blue/Red Size 5
Official MLS Soccer Ball
adidas mens Copa Mundial Soccer Shoe, Black/White/Black, 10 Women 9 Men US
Best Leather Soccer Cleats
QUICKPLAY Q-Fold Soccer Goal | The 30 Second Folding Soccer Goal for Backyard [Single Goal] The Best Weatherproof Soccer Net for Kids and Adults 2YR Warranty (2) 8x5'
30 Seconds Quickplay Goals

Thank you for reading our articles - we hoped you've enjoyed them and are having fun playing, coaching, and watching soccer.

Soccer Blade is an affiliate and an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases - at no extra cost to you.