Nobody can go on forever and 2017 saw the end of some stellar sports careers. From the likes of Andrea Pirlo, Frank Lampard and Francesco Totti in the world of football, to global superstars like Usain Bolt and Wladimir Klitschko, this year has been packed with high-profile retirements. Here we take a look at some of the biggest names to call it a day.
Usain Bolt retired in August after the 2017 World Championships, concluding a career that glittered with gold medals and world records. The Jamaican sprinter remains the fastest man over both 100 metres and 200m, boasting an athletic ability that made him an eight-time Olympic champion by the end of the 2016 Games in Rio. Although he could only manage a 100m bronze in his farewell at the IAAF World Championships in August, his legacy will live on for years and years to come.
Felipe Massa called time on his Formula One career for a second time at the end of the 2017 season. The 36-year-old was the latest in a long line of great Brazilian drivers, although he fell short of a world championship, finishing third in 2006 and second in 2008. Massa had initially quit the sport in 2016 before returning, but it looks as though this decision is final.
Wladimir Klitschko announced his retirement in August, ending speculation over a potential rematch with Anthony Joshua. The pair had produced a spectacular fight at Wembley in April, with the Englishman emerging victorious in the 11th round in his biggest step yet to superstardom. Klitschko ended his career with a record of 64 wins from 69 fights.
At the age of 38, midfield maestro Andrea Pirlo brought the curtain down on his glittering 23-year career in 2017, having amassed well over 500 appearances in his club career, and a further 116 senior caps for Italy.
One of the finest deep-lying playmakers in the history of the game, Pirlo established his world-class credentials during a trophy-laden decade at AC Milan, before going on to become the key to Juventus’ return to Serie A dominance under Antonio Conte.
With six Scudetto crowns, two Coppa Italia titles and two Champions League triumphs, not to mention World Cup glory with Italy in 2006, among his accolades, the evergreen Pirlo switched to the United States in 2015, spending three seasons with New York City FC before making his final appearance as a late substitute in the November 5 victory over Columbus Crew.
Frank Lampard eschewed a family legacy at West Ham in order to create his own at Chelsea. He joined before Roman Abramovich yet drove a culture of success, winning three Premier League titles, four FA Cups and the Champions League. He later lent his professionalism to the City Football Group and, though his England career peaked at Euro 2004, he won as many caps as Bobby Charlton and scored more than the often compared Steven Gerrard.
PHILIPP LAHM & XABI ALONSO
Pep Guardiola’s brilliant Bayern Munich was built on a couple of World Cup winners. In 2014, Philipp Lahm inherited the crown from team-mate Xabi Alonso. Lahm had long since achieved legendary status in Bavaria, where he won eight titles and the Champions League as part of a historic treble in 2013. Alonso had beaten him to Europe’s top trophy with Liverpool and shared his talents with multiple clubs, exhibiting his exquisite best for Real Madrid.
Francesco Totti made his 786th and final appearance for Roma in May to bring a glittering career spanning 25 seasons to an end. Idolised by Giallorossi fans, the talismanic forward played a key role in the club ending an 18-year wait for their third Scudetto in 2001. Totti scored 307 goals for his boyhood club and won 58 caps for Italy, as well as the 2006 World Cup, firmly cementing his status as one of his country’s finest ever sportsmen.
Alberto Contador announced his retirement in August as one of only six riders to have won all three of cycling’s Grand Tours. The Madrid-born all-rounder was catapulted to stardom when he won his first Tour de France in 2007 at the age of 24, and he went on to add victories in the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana within a 15-month period.
His career and his reputation became mired in controversy when he was suspended for two years after the banned steroid clenbuterol was found in his urine, and following his eventual return he added two more Vueltas and another Giro to his haul.
Five-time Grand Slam singles winner Martina Hingis retired from tennis for a third time in 2017, stressing that this time it was for good. In addition to her singles success, she won 13 women’s doubles and seven mixed doubles titles at the majors, making her comfortably one of the finest players of the modern era.