Marco van Basten
Van Basten is one of the greatest footballers of all time. The Dutchman was renowned for his spectacular strikes and volleys, the one against the Soviet Union in the final of the 1988 European Championship being the most lauded one. The attacking spearhead of the dominant Ajax and AC Milan of the 1980s and early 1990s, Van Basten went on to win seven league titles and two European Cups along with the 1988 Euros.
However, the three-time Ballon d’Or winner had several battles with his troublesome knee and after spending two years on the sidelines, he announced his retirement in 1995. He was only 30 at the time.
The Morocco-born Frenchman was one of the most fearsome strikers of his era. He went on to notch a remarkable tally of 13 goals at the 1958 World Cup in Sweden to claim the Golden Boot. His tally still remains a world record at a World Cup with no player scoring more than ten since. And with goals at football’s showpiece event becoming even harder to come, it is fair to say Fontaine’s record won’t be broken in the foreseeable future.
He scored a remarkable 30 goals from 21 appearances for Les Bleus and was striking at a similar lick for his club sides. However, the prolific forward had to call it a day aged 28 due to a recurring injury.
Clough achieved remarkable success in his managerial career so much so that it has almost shadowed the fact that he was an equally brilliant goalscorer during his playing career. He won a league title with Nottingham Forest and guided the provincial side to European Cup glory for two successive years, making the Reds the only side in history to have more European Cups in their trophy cabinet than top division league titles.
However, before Clough took to management, he played as a forward; first for Middlesbrough and later for Sunderland scoring at a clip of almost a goal per game for both the clubs. But he was forced into retirement aged 29 after a career-ending leg injury.
The story of frequently injured Holger Badstuber is not unique for Bayern Munich for they have a precedent in Deisler. The German was a gifted footballer and was hailed as a future star for his national team. Starting his senior career at Borussia Monchengladbach, he moved to Hertha Berlin for a three-year stint before landing at Bayern Munich for an injury-plagued five-year spell.
The winger called it a day in January 2007 after struggling with cruciate ligament injuries and resulting depression. He was just 27 at the time.
The Canada-born Englishman enjoyed a successful seven-year stint with Bayern Munich which earned him a move to Manchester United in 2007. The home return for the gifted midfielder, however, wasn’t what he expected as his four years at Old Trafford were blighted by a series of injuries.
He eventually moved to Manchester City for a solitary season before calling it a day in 2012 aged 30.