Top 5 Saddest Farewells in Football – 101 Great Goals

In many cases, these are positive emotions that follow when your team scores a goal, wins a game or, in some cases, lifts a trophy.

But football can also break the heart of many a fan, for example when a long-standing star leaves your club to retire or to break new ground.

With this attitude 101Great Goals have selected the five saddest farewells in football.

Sir Alex Ferguson retires

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

Ferguson took over the club in 1986 and led Manchester United to a record 13 Premier League titles, the last of which came in his last season as manager in 2012/13. It is unlikely that these 13 PL titles will ever be equaled.

Ferguson also helped United become the only English club to lift the correct FA Cup, Premier League and Champions League treble.

The Scot’s last game as manager was at West Brom on 19 May 2013 – a game that ended in a 5-5 draw at Manchester United.

Xavi & Iniesta leave Barcelona

Xavi and Iniesta left FC Barcelona three years apart but considering how impressive they have been for the club playing in the same midfield it would be rude to take one of them off this list.

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

However, it wasn’t until Pep Guardiola took the reins in Catalonia that Xavi and Iniesta really cemented themselves as Barcelona icons.

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

Xavi and Iniesta have since produced a new generation of smaller, more technical midfielders who would never have had a chance 20 years ago.

Steven Gerrard leaves Liverpool

Ask just about any fan around the world about a Liverpool icon and they’ll say Steven Gerrard.

The Englishman made his senior debut for his hometown club in 1998 and later established himself as one of the Premier League’s finest midfielders.

Gerrard has won everything apart from the Premier League title during his 17-year tenure at the club with Liverpool.

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

Francesco Totti retires

Francesco Totti is the definition of a one-club man. The 45-year-old is one of the greatest Italian strikers of all time. However, his involvement with AS Roma means his skills aren’t really reflected in his trophy case.

Totti has won a Serie A title, two Coppa Italias and two Suppercopa Italianas, with his last trophy dating back to 2008.

There’s no question he could have won a lot more had he gone elsewhere, but his dedication to Roma should be admired as it’s very, very rare that a professional footballer, let alone one of Totti’s ability, is for him at a club remains a whole career.

And that’s why his retirement in 2017 is one of the saddest moments in football. Totti played his last game 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 farewell in football came just a year ago, on August 5th.

Lionel Messi should most likely replace aforementioned Totti as the greatest one-club man in football history.

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

Even if Messi had taken a pay cut of 50 percent of his previous salary, which would be the most La Liga would have allowed, Barcelona still couldn’t afford to give Messi a new contract.

This forced Messi to leave his longtime club for PSG where he currently plays.

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