The Magic Dwarf: Lahm closing the curtains
On Tuesday, Bayern Munich and Germany international legend Philipp Lahm announced his impending retirement from football. Sports Gazette explores Lahm’s career but also those players that have arguably retired prematurely from the beautiful game.
Questionable haircuts, regrettable tweets, trademark goal celebrations; there are a lot of trends in football. Following Frank Lampard's exit last week, it seems high-profile retirements are starting to catch on.
“The most essential quality in the game is passion.” The words of a man who feels he can no longer reach the level of passion required to sustain an already well-decorated football career.
Lahm’s announcement came to a surprise to all, even his club of 501 games Bayern Munich were shocked at the timing of his decision.
Chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told reporters prior to Lahm’s statement that any news would come through a joint statement.
“Bayern Munich are surprised by the actions of Philipp Lahm and his advisor. Uli Hoeness and myself had honest, intensive talks in the past months with Philipp about a potential involvement in the management of our club.”
Having seemingly decided on his future with the club, Lahm made it clear that, for the time being, he wanted no further involvement with his boyhood club after the climax of this current Bundesliga campaign.
Rummenigge said: “Last week he informed us he was currently not available for the sports director position and that he wants to end his contract early.”
The 33-year-old versatile footballer has been with the 25 times Bundesliga champions since 2002 and has gone on to win seven league titles, six German cups, and one Champions League trophy.
The former Germany international captain also has a World Cup triumph to his name, winning the prestigious trophy back in 2014, before announcing his international retirement, seemingly to concentrate on his future with Munich.
However, by the time Lahm retires his future with Munich would have only have lasted three years since Germany’s World Cup dominance. Many within the Munich set-up; Head Coach Carlo Ancelotti, the current player squad, back-room staff and passionate FC Bayern supporters, will be disappointed with the news.
Lahm has been an ever-present figure within the squad since his return from two consecutive seasons on loan at Bundesliga rivals Stuttgart.
Munich currently find themselves top of the Bundesliga, four points ahead of controversial league rivals RB Leipzig. It is both highly possible and probable that Lahm will finish his career with another league title.
Munich also face Arsenal in the Champions League round of 16 next week (February 15th) and continue to advance in the DFB-Pokal (German Cup) having beaten Wolfsburg 1-0 at the Allianz Arena.
A potential treble dream for Lahm before he hangs up his boots?A potential treble dream for Lahm before he hangs up his boots?”
Philip Lahm isn’t the only footballer whose retirement has surprised the football community.
Arguably the most high-profile retirement was the incredibly talented George Best, who decided to quit the game back in 1972 aged just 28. Often cited as one of the greatest players to have graced the game, it came as a shock that the Manchester United winger felt it was the right time to quit, especially having been United’s top scorer for three consecutive seasons.
Although he made a late comeback by playing inconsistently for nine teams post-United, Best never managed to reclaim the heights he experience before his untimely retirement.
“King Eric” was once voted Manchester United’s greatest player of all time. Eric Cantona was an iconic forward who, despite his controversies, achieved iconic standing in England, winning four Premier League titles, and two F.A Cups.
Close to 100 goals for United, the technically supreme Frenchman who has many tapes dedicated to his never-ending reel of world class goals decided to retire at the age of 30, revealing that he wanted to live a ‘normal life’, including going out with friends and drinking, all the things an athlete isn't supposed to do.
Mario de Castro is engraved in Brazilian legend as the most clinical goal-scorer in world football. His record of 195 goals in 100 games for Atletico Mineiro will most likely never be matched, with an average of 1.95 goals every game.
His retirement at the age of 26 came after a club director shockingly shot an opposing supporter, with Castro too appalled to continue in the game. The football world wonders what would Castro have achieved if this tragedy had never occurred.
Other players to have retired early include official FIFA sixth best player of all time and three time Ballon d’Or winner Michel Platini aged 32, the most successful French captain of all time winning both the World Cup and European Championships, Didier Deschamps also retired at just 32. Dutch midfield maestro Frank Rijkaard, England legend Kevin Keegan, clinical striker Patrick Kluivert, Manchester God Paul Scholes, and Redknapp-soaker David Bentley are among those who left the game before their time.
It is yet to be confirmed where Lahm will go once he stops his playing career at the end of this season. However, if he decides to continue working within the game, his mentality and passion will ensure that he forever continues to be regarded as one of the very best professionals in world football.