The World Cup is the biggest stage of them all. It’s a place where legends are born, careers made and dreams come true. But it’s also a place where dreams die, careers end and legends fade away.
Here are some of the biggest names who might retire from international football and possibly club football after this year’s tournament:
1. Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo has been one of the most dominant players in world football for over a decade.
The Portuguese superstar has won countless individual accolades and titles with his clubs, but he has yet to win the FIFA World Cup. Ronaldo is 37 years old, so this may be his last chance to capture a World Cup title.
Ronaldo is still playing at an elite level and should be able to perform well in Russia, but if Portugal reaches the final on December 18 and fails to win, there’s a good chance Ronaldo will retire from international football after this tournament.
2. Lionel Messi
35-year-old Messi is undoubtedly one of the best players to ever grace the game. He has won every trophy there is to win at club level and has done so with style and grace. However, on the international stage, he has been unable to replicate his club success.
Messi has never won a the World Cup with Argentina, despite being the star player in their team for over a decade. This could be his last chance to clinch the FIFA World Cup considering the fact that he will be 39-years-old when the next World Cup takes place.
3. Manuel Neuer
Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer has been one of the most consistent players in world football over the last decade and is still going strong. The 36-year-old goalkeeper has been a mainstay in the Bayern goal and may hang his boots after the World Cup.
4. Olivier Giroud
36-year-old Giroud has been a loyal servant for France over the years, but he may be ready to step away from international football after this summer’s World Cup. The AC Mila striker has been playing for Les Bleus since 2011. Giroud has scored 49 goals in 117 appearances for his country, and will be fondly be remembered.
5. Karim Benzema
The Real Madrid striker has been an instrumental player for Les Bleus for almost a decade, and he’ll be hoping for a World Cup Truimph. He has scored 37 goals in his country’s colors. Benzema will be 38-years-old in the next World Cup, so he may likely retire from international football after this tournament.
6. Sergio Busquets
The Barcelona midfielder who is now 34-years olď has been with his club since 2008, but he might be ready to call it quits after this World Cup. Busquets has won just about everything there is to win with Barça, and will always be remembered has a legend for his club and country.
7. Luiz Suarez
35-years-old Uruguay striker Luiz Suarez is not one to over-exert himself, but he has been one of the most consistent players in the world. Luiz Suarez will be 39-years-old by the time the next World Cup comes around and there’s no way he’ll be on that team to represent Uruguay in 2026 World Cup.
8. Robert Lewandowski
At 34-years-old, he is one of the most experienced players on this young Poland side. He has been described by many as “the most complete striker in the game”, However, he may be tempted to quit international football after this World Cup and focuses solely on Barcelona.
9. Luka Modric
Luka Modric is one of the best midfielders in the world, and he’s been a key part of Real Madrid’s success over the past few years. Modric’s accomplishments in club football are outstanding, but he hasn’t had much success with his national team. At 37-years-old, he is likely to quit international football after the World Cup.
10. Thiago Silva
Thiago Silva is one of the most recognizable names in Brazilian football. The 33-year-old defender has been a regular for his national team since 2006. This World Cup could be his last appearance on the international stage.
Pepe is the oldest players in the Portuguese squad. He has been around for over two decades, making his debut for Portugal back in 2002. He has played over 100 games for his country and has won everything there is to win at club level. He is now 39 years old and it would be no surprise if he retired after this World Cup.
12. Dani Alves
The right-back has been one of the best in his position for years now, however at the age of 39, age is no longer on his side and would retire from international and club football after the tournament.