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LAST HURRAH

7 players you probably didn’t realise were retiring at the end of the season 

Club legends, big names and cult heroes

It’s that time of year when we say goodbye to living legends.

At the weekend, Brighton fans paid tribute to their captain Bruno, who’s retiring at the grand old age of 38.

And then there’s everyone’s favourite helmeted goalkeeper Petr Cech, who has the chance to finish his 22-year career with another major trophy when Arsenal take on Chelsea in the Europa League final.

How very poignant.

Golden gloves

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Golden gloves

There’s plenty of other big names and cult heroes saying farewell this summer too, including this lot…

1 Robin Van Persie

Flying Dutchman

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Flying Dutchman

Fiercely unpopular among Arsenal fans but adored by the Old Trafford faithful, RVP’s whirlwind career came to an end at the weekend in Feyenoord’s final game of the season against Den Haag.

The Dutchman is best-remembered for his controversial transfer between Arsenal and Man United in 2012 – before almost single-handily winning Sir Alex Ferguson his final Premier League title.

The great man received a guard of honour at De Kuip as he was subbed off in his last ever game and was also presented with this very special shirt.

Hurts the eyes a bit, doesn’t it?

2 Xavi

Pass master

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Pass master

Perhaps the greatest midfielder of his generation?

Barcelona fans certainly think so, judging by his emotional departure from the club back in 2015.

It certainly felt like the end, but the Spaniard has been quietly seeing out his playing days in Qatar with the country’s most-celebrated club Al Sadd.

Now aged 39, the World Cup winner and five-times Champions League medallist will take to the field for one last time in the Amir Cup final against Al Duhail on Thursday.

3 Andrea Barzagli

One of the B’s in Juve’s ‘BBC’ back-line is hanging up his boots

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One of the B’s in Juve’s ‘BBC’ back-line is hanging up his boots

38-year-old Barzagli has been key to Juventus’ success in recent years, forming one of football’s most-stylish defensive lines alongside Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini.

They certainly made an effective trio, with the tough tackling centre-back helping the Old Lady secure EIGHT league titles since he joined from Wolfsburg.

The Serie A champions still have two games to go until the end of their campaign, including their final home appearance against Atalanta on Sunday.

Expect a few tears in that one.

4 John O’Shea

Last hurrah

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Last hurrah

The legendary Old Trafford utility man is finally hanging up his boots, having recently turned 38.

He’s been on the books at Reading this season, where he made his 803rd and final appearance in competitive football against Birmingham at the weekend.

But the Irishman is best-remembered for his time at Man United – where he made nearly 400 appearances for the side during their dominant period in the Premier League.

We’ll never forget him for his quirks, from his nutmeg on Luis Figo in a Champions League match against Real Madrid, playing as a goalkeeper in the final minutes of a win at Spurs and for his overall positional versatility.

5 Matty Taylor

Still going strong

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Still going strong

There’s a name you haven’t heard for a while, right?

The Portsmouth legend has been turning out for League Two’s Swindon Town over the last couple of seasons, but is best known for his spells with Pompey, Bolton and West Ham.

Now aged 37, Taylor been working off the pitch to complete his UEFA Pro Licence badge with a move into coaching the next logical step.

6 Sergio Pellissier

Chievo hero

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Chievo hero

Certainly not a household name in England, but Pellissier is a legend for Serie A side Chievo.

The 40-year-old striker has played for the Verona-based club since the turn of the millennium and helped them qualify for the UEFA Cup and Champions League back in the early 2000s.

Since then, he’s become a stalwart in the team and is their all-time appearance holder and top goalscorer.

He came off the bench at the weekend in their 2-0 defeat to Inter, where he received an emotional standing ovation from the San Siro crowd.

Speaking after the match, the veteran claimed it was “one of the greatest emotions I’ve ever experienced in this sport.”

7 Yossi Benayoun

Benayoun turns out for Israeli side Beitar Jerusalem these days

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Benayoun turns out for Israeli side Beitar Jerusalem these days

Only three players have scored a hat-trick in the Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup.

Harry Kane and Sergio Aguero are the obvious two, while the third is none other than Israeli journeyman Benayoun.

We remember the 39-year-old fondly in England, where he became a bit of a cult hero at the five clubs he played for, including Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal.

He’s perhaps best loved at Anfield thanks to his knack of scoring crucial goals, including a late winner against Real Madrid in a Champions League knockout match.


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