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2016 Football Review: Five Great Players who retired

Juan Carlos Valeron

Valeron is revered as one of the greatest Spanish midfielders of all time. His best football came at Deportivo La Coruna with who he stayed from 2000 until 2013 when he moved to Las Palmas – the club where he had started his professional career.

One of his most memorable games in Europe came in the 2003/04 Champions League. Deportivo were 4-1 down from first leg away against AC Milan and had a mammoth task to get past the Italian giants at the Riazor Stadium. However, the Spaniards did the unthinkable at home and romped home to a stirring 4-0 triumph to book their passage to the last four. Valeron was the heart of Deportivo’s midfield.

It shows the esteem he is held in that he was applauded at every ground that Las Palmas went to last season.

Antonio Di Natale

One of the greatest Italian goal scorers retired at the end of the 2015/16 campaign at Udinese. Di Natale started his professional football career with Empoli in 1996 before he moved to Udinese in 2004. He went on to play close to 400 league games for the Udine outfit and finished as the club’s highest Serie A (191) and European (17) goal scorer.

He also notched 11 goals for the Italian national team from 42 appearances and is regarded amongst the most respectable players in the Italian league.

Steven Gerrard

The Liverpool legend spent 28 years at the club, progressing from the youth team to the first team captaincy. He memorably lead them to the 2005 Champions League triumph when the Reds came back from 3-0 down in the first half against AC Milan to become European champions following a penalty shootout.

He also won two FA Cups and three League Cups at Anfield and won 114 caps for the England national team. He moved to the Major League Soccer club LA Galaxy at the end of the 2014/15 Premier League season and announced his retirement from the game at the end of the 2015/16 MLS season.

Diego Milito

The Argentine will forever be part of the Inter Milan folklore courtesy of his heroics in the 2009/10 season when his goals helped the Nerazzurri win a treble of the league title, domestic cup and the Champions League.

El Principe, as he was nicknamed by the Inter Milan faithful, spent five seasons at the San Siro and went on to make 128 league appearances before he moved to Racing Club back home in Argentina for two more seasons at the highest level. He also earned 25 caps for the Argentina national team.

Nemanja Vidic

Vidic endeared himself to the Manchester United faithful during the course of his eight seasons at Old Trafford. At his peak, Vidic formed one of the most formidable defensive pairings with Rio Ferdinand and went on to claim five league titles and the 2008 Champions League.

He moved to Inter Milan in 2014 but was a shadow of his former self. The Serbian announced his retirement from the game at the end of the 2015/16 season.