Francesco Totti- by Rebecca Johnson
Arguably, one of the most memorable exits from sport is from Roma legend, Francesco Totti. After a remarkable career, playing for Roma since 1992, the Gladiator decided to bring his illustrious career to a close in May 2017.
In the fifty-fourth minute against Genoa, forward Mo Salah was subbed off for Totti to make his final appearance. Although the game finished 3-2 to Roma, securing their spot in the Champions League, the end of the game was all about Totti.[pullquote]Trying to hold back the tears, he was subsequently presented with a framed number ten shirt to mark his time at Roma[/pullquote]
Tears flooded the Stadio Olimpico as Totti walked a slow lap of honour around the stadium and gave a farewell speech to a sell out crowd. Trying to hold back the tears, he was subsequently presented with a framed number ten shirt to mark his time at Roma.
And so the Gladiator’s playing career drew to an emotional close last year, his time as director has just started, allowing him to continue serving his status as a legend from behind the scenes.
Duncan Ferguson- by Dan Haygarth
Everton’s unremarkable 2-2 draw with West Brom in May 2006 was notable for several reasons. Everton debuted a very smart new Umbro kit, Victor Anichebe scored his first goal for the club and Duncan Ferguson signed off his Everton career with a last-minute equalising goal.
[pullquote]Affectionately known as “Bid Dunc” by the blue half of Merseyside, he scored 72 goals from 273 appearances[/pullquote]
As a striker, Ferguson was far from prolific. Affectionately known as ‘Big Dunc’ by the blue half of Merseyside, he scored 72 goals from 273 appearances over two spells at the club. He was, however, more than just a striker. Through one of the leanest spells in the club’s history, Ferguson’s love for the club and his knack for a late goal brought at least some joy to Everton Football Club.
This came to a head in his final game. In front of the Gwladys Street end, Ferguson stepped to take a penalty. The Scot slammed initial effort straight at Tomasz Kuszczak. With his last touch for the club, he did the exact same thing with the rebound. Fortunately, the ball found its way to the corner of the net to square the game. Big Dunc signed off in the most Everton way imaginable.
Michael Phelps- by Sydney Isaacs
What better way to conclude a career than to win gold in the 4 x 100-meter medley relay, breaking the Olympic record and bringing home the United States’ 1001st all time Olympic gold, medal?
If this isn’t enough then perhaps the fact that it was his 23rd Olympic gold and 4th at the Rio Olympics, for which he was chosen as American flag bearer, was enough to make this a pretty memorable career culmination. Prior to his retirement on 13th August 2016, at his 5th Olympic games, Phelps had received swimming world’s swimmer of the year award eight times as well as the Associated Press athlete of the year award in both 2008 and 2012. He also holds twenty-six Guinness world records including “most world records set for swimming (male)”.[pullquote]Phelps had received swimming world’s swimmer of the year award eight times as well as the Associated Press athlete of the year award in both 2008 and 2012[/pullquote]
With Phelps leaving on such good form and so recently, there has been speculation as to his return to swimming in time for Tokyo 2020. Talk of a comeback last year met with indecision from Phelps himself . Whilst he is openly working out at the gym five to six times a week in order to maintain his fantastic physical form, he attributes this to “wanting to get back into some sort of shape … to be the best husband, the best dad, the hardest worker, I need to work out” as he told the Washington Post. The thirty-two year old also stated that he “could” come back, but “I just have nothing that I want to come back and do” when interviewed on the “today” show.
Nico Rosberg- by Tom Shrimplin
The 2016 Formula One champion Nico Rosberg certainly had an interesting last appearance in the sport. It was a close, tense and often fractious battle against Mercedes team-mate and fierce rival Lewis Hamilton, with the title decided at the final race in Abu Dhabi.
Heading into the final round, Rosberg led Hamilton by 12 points, meaning that he needed to finish on the podium to definitely clinch the title. Starting behind team-mate in second place it looked like he was about to clinch the title.[pullquote]Despite the dramatic race (and season), the two Mercedes drivers embraced and shook hands on the podium[/pullquote]
However following his first pit-stop the German driver ended up behind the Red Bull of Max Verstappen, but managed to overtake him by Lap 20 to take back second place. Then in the closing laps, Hamilton controversially slowed down in attempt to allow other drivers to catch and pass Rosberg, disregarding instructions from Mercedes to speed up.
Yet it was not enough, and Rosberg managed to hold the chasing pack off to take second place and secure the Championship. The emotions were high as he was congratulated by his wife Vivian on the radio, completed doughnut spins on the pit straight and stood on the nose of the car to cheers from the crowd. While despite the dramatic race (and season), the two Mercedes drivers embraced and shook hands on the podium.
Then only five days after winning his maiden title and aged just 31, Rosberg made the surprising announcement that he would be retiring from the sport, citing the stress of racing, his young family and the fact that he had achieved his life’s ambition.
Andrew Flintoff- by Josh Nicholson
As a young child I once went to watch Lancashire and a tall, somewhat portly, Andrew Flintoff ran in from the Brian Statham End at Old Trafford.
Fast forward several years to The Oval in 2009. The ultimate Brit abroad having been lost at sea on a pedalo and been so drunk on an open top bus tour to Downing Street he and Kevin Pietersen could hardly stand up. He was the every man, but Flintoff had one last swansong for his adoring audience. One last moment of genius.[pullquote]He was the every man, but Flintoff had one last swansong for his adoring audience[/pullquote]
Struggling with bad knees, Flintoff knew this was his last time on a cricket pitch, charging off a long run up in to bowl with his trademark chest-on bowling style in an Ashes test. It was his fielding that had the final say. Ricky Ponting, another in the twilight of his career, hit a soft drive to Flintoff at cover and ran for it. He thought Flintoff couldn’t move, only for him to send the small red ball careering into the vacant stumps.
The crowd erupted, in my lounge at home I erupted, people in their cars stopped and erupted with joy. The cricket needed that moment from Flintoff, more than he could ever know.