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Vidic, Gerrard, Reid and more of our favourite footballers who hung up their boots in 2016

From League of Ireland heroes to World Cup winners.

Updated 9:30

2016 HAS SEEN several superstars of the game play their final match, while some Irish cult heroes also decided to retire this year. Here is a selection of our favourites. 

1. Miroslav Klose

The legendary German forward ended his career in November, having been without a club after his contract with Serie A side Lazio expired at the end of last season.

The 38-year-old, who has since joined his national team’s coaching staff, can look back on a prolific career in front of goal.

The striker is Germany’s all-time top scorer after finding the back of the net 71 times in 137 internationals, which includes a record 16 strikes in the World Cup finals.

His final goal for Joachim Low’s side came in the 7-1 thrashing of Brazil in the 2014 World Cup semi-final, as Germany went on to lift the trophy for a fourth time.

Germany Soccer Klose Source: Natacha Pisarenko

2. Stephen Hunt

The enthusiastic winger ensured he used every ounce of his ability to forge a career at the top of English football, which helped the now 35-year-old make 143 Premier League appearances as well as 39 Ireland caps.

Although he was included in Ireland’s squad for Euro 2012, he failed to play a single second during the Boys in Green ill-fated campaign.

Hunt’s most successful club stint was with Reading, where he secured promotion to the top flight, while spells at Hull, Wolves and Ipswich followed.

In 2016, he signed a short-term deal with League One side Coventry City after the Waterford native was without a club for six months, before retiring at the end of last season.

IRELAND MONTENEGRO WCUP SOCCER Source: AP/Press Association Images

 3. Nemanja Vidic

Manchester United’s former captain officially announced his retirement in January after recurring hernia and back injuries ended any hopes of the Serbian reaching the heights that made him an Old Trafford favourite, where he won the Champions League and five Premier League titles.

The former Red Star Belgrade and Spartak Moscow defender became a free agent after he prematurely ended his contract with Inter Milan by mutual consent. Two weeks later, Vidic confirmed his retirement from the game.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Manchester United v Hull City - Old Trafford Source: PA Archive/PA Images

 4. Steven Gerrard

The former Liverpool and England captain retired in November, ending a playing career that spanned nearly two decades.

Gerrard played 710 times for the Anfield club, winning nine trophies along the way, before deciding to hang up his boots a year after joining MLS side LA Galaxy.

Although the 36-year-old never managed to guide Liverpool to their first league title in the Premier League era, there was plenty of success in the cup competitions to maintain a lasting legacy on Merseyside and beyond.

The midfielder helped his side to win two FA Cups, three League Cups, a Community Shield, a Uefa Cup and a European Super Cup.

But one of the highlights of his career came in 2005 when he led Liverpool to their fifth European Cup after the Reds came from 3-0 down to beat Italian giants AC Milan on penalties in the final in Istanbul.

Soccer - UEFA Champions League - Final - AC Milan v Liverpool - Ataturk Olympic Stadium Source: EMPICS Sport

 5. Andy Reid

The talented midfielder called time on his playing career on his 34th birthday, after a long-term groin injury left the Crumlin natve on the sidelines for nearly two years.

The former Ireland international won 29 caps in total, but a much-publicised falling out with then manager Giovanni Trapattoni left Reid on the periphery of the Irish squad.

His final appearance in the green jersey came under caretaker manager Noel King in the dead rubber World Cup qualifier against Kazakhstan in 2013.

Reid, who came through the Nottingham Forest youth system after moving to England from Cherry Orchard, joined Spurs in 2006 and also had spells with for Charlton, Sunderland and Blackpool.

The Dubliner returned to the City Ground in 2011, where he scored 42 goals in 290 games over his two stints with the club.

Andrew Reid 17/10/2007 Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

6. Walter Samuel

The tough-tackling defender retired in the summer after spending the final two years of his career with Swiss side Basle, where he picked up two league titles.

In fact, the former Boca Juniors, Roma, Real Madrid and Inter Milan centre-back has won league titles with every club he has been with, except in his single season with Los Blancos.

The ex-Argentina international enjoyed the most successful time of his career with Inter where he won the Serie A title five times, the Coppa Italia on three occasions, as well as the Champions League, and was an integral part of Jose Mourinho’s historic treble-winning team from the 2009-10 season.

China Italian Super Cup Soccer Source: AP/Press Association Images

7. Stephen McPhail

The Home Farm graduate started his professional career in England with Leeds United, and played a key part in their remarkable Champions League run to the semi-finals in 2001.

McPhail then went on to captain Cardiff City in their FA Cup final loss to Portsmouth in 2008, a year before he was diagnosed with cancer of the lymphoma.

The midfielder won 10 caps with the national team, and returned to Ireland with Shamrock Rovers in in 2014.

Just 10 days after hanging up his boots, the 36-year-old was announced as the club’s new sporting director.

Stephen McPhail celebrates after the game Source: James Crombie/INPHO

8. Daniel Agger

The 31-year-old former Liverpool and Denmark defender announced his retirement in June, stating that persistent injuries have caused his standard of performances to drop.

Agger made 232 appearances and scored 14 goals for Liverpool, over an eight year spell at Anfield, where he won the League Cup and Community Shield.

His time on Merseyside was sandwiched between spells with Brondby, where he started and ended his career, and claimed the Danish Superliga in 2005.

The centre-back made 75 appearances for Denmark, which included matches at the 2010 World Cup and 2012 European Championships.

Soccer - UEFA Champions League - Semi-Final - Second Leg - Liverpool v Chelsea - Anfield Source: PA Archive/PA Images

 9. Kevin McHugh

The 36-year-old, who was due to hang up his boots at the end of the year, was forced to end his career prematurely in October after he lost his finger in a freak accident.

The striker made 438 appearances and 186 goals over two spells with Finn Harps which bookmarked his career, while he won the FAI Cup with Derry City in 2006 and also spent a season with Irish Premiership side Linfield.

The two-time First Division Player of the Year winner ends his career in the top five all-time League of Ireland goalscoring list.

Sean Hoare and Kevin McHugh Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

10. Luca Toni

A World Cup winner with Italy in 2006, the striker retired after enduring his “worst” season, scoring five goals as his Hellas Verona side were relegated to Serie B.

Just 12 months earlier, Toni netted 22 times to end the previous season as the league’s joint-highest goalscorer, in the process, the then 38-year-old became the oldest player to win Serie A’s golden boot.

Toni, who scored 156 times in Serie A for eight different clubs in 343 appearances also won the European Golden Shoe in 2006, by scoring 31 goals for Fiorentina.

The forward also tasted success outside of Italy with Bayern Munich and finished the 2007-08 season as the Bundesliga’s top marksman with Ottmar Hitzfeld’s side claiming the league title.

Soccer - UEFA European Championship 2008 Qualifying - Group B - Scotland v Italy - Hampden Park Source: PA Archive/PA Images

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