Top 5 saddest goodbyes in football

One of the many reasons football is the most popular sport on the planet is because of the emotion is brings out in people.

On many occasions, these are positive emotions that follow when your team scores a goal, wins a match or in some cases, clinch a trophy.

However, football can also quite easily break the hearts of many a fan, such as when a long-time star departs your club in order to retire or seek pastures new.

With this in mind, 101GreatGoals have picked out the fives saddest goodbyes in football.

Sir Alex Ferguson retires

For many rival fans, the day Sir Alex Ferguson retired was a day to be celebrated. But for Manchester United supporters, it was one of the most emotional days in the club’s history.

Taking over the club in 1986, Ferguson went on to guide Manchester United to a record 13 Premier League titles, the last of which coming in his final season as a manger in 2012/13. Said total of 13 PL titles is unlikely to ever be matched.

Ferguson also helped United become the only English club to clinch the proper treble of FA Cup, Premier League and Champions League.

The Scot’s last game as a manager was away to West Brom on May 19, 2013 – a match Manchester United drew 5-5.

Xavi & Iniesta leave Barcelona

Xavi and Iniesta left FC Barcelona three years apart from one another, but given how impressive they were for the club when playing in the same midfield, it would be rude to leave one of them off this list.

Xavi, now 42, came up through Barca’s famed La Masia academy and made his senior debut in 1998. Iniesta, who is four years younger, joined Barca’s youth ranks in 1996 before debuting in 2002.

It was not until Pep Guardiola took the reins in Catalonia, though, that Xavi and Iniesta truly cemented themselves as Barcelona icons.

Barcelona dominated the footballing landscape for many years with the midfield trident of Sergio Busquets, Xavi and Iniesta, with the Barca motto of ‘take the ball, pass the ball’ epitomised by the trio.

Xavi and Iniesta have since given rise to a new generation of smaller, more technical midfielders who would never have been given a chance 20 years ago.

Steven Gerrard leaves Liverpool

Ask pretty much any fan around the world to name a Liverpool icon and they will say Steven Gerrard.

The Englishman made his senior debut for his hometown club in 1998 and went on to carve out a name for himself as one of the Premier League’s greatest ever midfielders.

Gerrard won it all with Liverpool during his 17-year spell at the club, apart from the Premier League title.

Regardless, Gerrard is a Liverpool icon and his farewell at the end of 2014/15 was cetinally emotional for Liverpool fans around the world.

Francesco Totti retires

Francesco Totti is the very definition of a one club man. The now 45-year-old is one of the greatest Italian forwards of all time. However, his commitment to AS Roma means his ability is not really reflected in his trophy cabinet.

Totti won one Serie A title, two Coppa Italias and two Suppercoppa Italianas, with his last trophy coming all the way back in 2008.

There is no question he could have won a lot more had he moved elsewhere, but his commitment to Roma should be admired as it is very, very rare you see any professional footballer, never mind one of Totti’s ability, stay at one club for his whole career.

And that is why his retirement in 2017 is one of the saddest moments in football. Totti made his final appearance for Roma in a 3–2 home win against Genoa, coming on as a substitute for Mohamed Salah in the 54th minute.

Lionel Messi leaves Barcelona

Perhaps the saddest goodbye in football came just one year ago on August 5th.

Lionel Messi was, more than likely, set to replace the aforementioned Totti as the greatest one-club man in footballing history.

However, his Barcelona contract expired on July 1, 2021, and, due to Barcelona’s financial troubles, he was unable to sign a new deal.

Even if Messi had taken a 50 per cent wage cut on his previous salary, which is the most La Liga would have allowed, Barcelona could still not afford to give Messi a new contract.

This forced Messi to leave his long-time club for PSG, where he is still currently playing.

Josh Barker

Josh Barker

Middlesbrough fan from the North East of England. @JoshBarker979 on Twitter.

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