IT REALLY COULDN’T have gone any better for Stuart Broad, the English cricketer and Aussie antagonist-in-chief, who this week announced his retirement midway during the fifth Ashes test.

Not only did Broad take the final two Aussie wickets to help his side even the series 2-2 (our prediction, if you’re interested, was 3-2 Australia’s way), he also hit his final ball in Test cricket for 6. As I said, it really doesn’t get any better.

The beauty of Broad’s decision was that he wrote his own ticket and controlled his destiny. He’d had a great series, leading both teams in wickets. At 37, he likely knew it was best to retire to his corner before Father Time started battering him. Broad has always revelled in the Ashes more than any other series, so his decision had an air of fatefulness about it.

After the Test, Broad’s teammate, spinner Moeen Ali, announced that the fifth Test would also be his last. The off spinner had been lured out of retirement by skipper Ben Stokes to play in this series, to which he made some handy contributions. Now, he sails off into the sunset, knowing he played a part in a memorable series. Not on Broad’s level, but not a bad way to bow out.

Broad’s decision has put the spotlight on his fast-bowling partner, Jimmy Anderson, who at 41, looked a shadow of himself in this series but has yet to announce his retirement and, by all reports, intends to play on. It’s perhaps because of his recent struggles that Anderson feels he has unfinished business. He has already raged against the dying light harder than any fast bowler before him. But in his determination to write his own Hollywood ending he could end up with a bungled denouement.

Then there’s Buddy Franklin, who was forced into retirement this week thanks to a calf injury. It was a sad end for arguably the greatest player of the last two decades, though it wasn’t like he had much to prove. Given he helped get the Swans to a grand final appearance last year, Franklin will probably be able to rationalise that it was worth giving it another shot this season.

Knowing when to call it a day is one of the toughest decisions athletes face. Go on for too long, as Anderson and Australia’s David Warner may have done, and the press will be baying for your blood. Go out at the top and the itch that can’t be scratched could plague you in retirement—just ask Michael Jordan or Tom Brady (see below). If you do come back, you risk damaging your all-important legacy. It’s tricky stuff. Here’s a look at some of the best and worst sporting retirements.

Best retirements


Shane Warne

2007, Australian Cricket Team

Having announced his retirement a week earlier when he claimed his 700th test wicket at the MCG in front of 89,000 fans, Warne’s final Test was at the SCG, the same venue as his first 15 years earlier. Warne ended England’s first innings by trapping Monty Panesar LBW and took his 1,000th international wicket. He also got a handy 71 in Australia’s first innings, on the way to a 10-wicket win and 5-0 thumping of the Poms. It was also Glenn McGrath’s last test, the iconic fast bowler finishing with 3-38 in his last-ever spell.

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Dan Carter

All-Blacks, 2015

After suffering a groin injury midway through the 2011 World Cup, the three-time Rugby Player-of-the-Year winner was determined to play on to the 2015 World Cup. There he capped a glittering career with a man-of-the-match performance in the final against Australia that helped the All-Blacks claim a second successive World Cup.

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Kobe Bryant

LA Lakers, 2016

Okay, so the Black Mamba was largely an inefficient chucker for most of his last season, jacking up difficult shots with defenders draped all over him and delaying a much-needed Lakers rebuild. But in his very last game, Bryant dropped 60 points (helped by his teammates feeding him the ball) in front of his adoring fans at the Staples Centre. He then did one of the best mic-drops of all time: “Mamba Out”. Nice.


Michael Phelps

Swimming, 2016

The legendary American swimmer had enough gold to fit out a Saudi palace when he bowed out of international swimming after a successful London Olympics in 2012. It appeared that wasn’t enough, though, for Phelps would return to the pool in Rio in 2016, adding a further five gold medals to his trophy cabinet, finishing with 23 in total.

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Usain Bolt

Athletics, 2017

Possibly the most charismatic track athlete of all time, Bolt cemented his GOAT status in Rio in 2016 by winning golds in the 100m and 200m at three successive Olympics. He would go on to compete in the 2017 World championships where he claimed bronze, yet to be honest, no one really remembers that.

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Floyd Mayweather

Boxing, 2017

Mayweather has fought some ridiculous exhibition fights in recent years, however, he ended his pro career 50-0 with his 10-round victory over Connor McGregor in 2017.  Admittedly that was a circus but it did count against his professional record.

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Michael Jordan

1998, Chicago Bulls

Now, of course, this wouldn’t be the end for ‘His Airness’ but at the time it appeared Jordan had pulled off the ultimate farewell. Not only did he score 45 points to lead the Bulls to a 4-2 win over the Utah Jazz to cap his second three-peat and sixth NBA title, he also hit the final shot with five seconds remaining over a flailing Bryon Russell. And that’s perhaps where it should have ended.

And the not so great:

David Beckham

Paris St-Germain, 2013

After a highly decorated career at Manchester United, Real Madrid and LA Galaxy, Becks ended his playing career on the pitch in tears with PSG. The team did claim the title that year but Becks had little to do with it. He also helped flog the Qatar World Cup as part of a run-of-the-mill sports wash. Still, Brand Beckham remains undefeated.

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Tom Brady

Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2023

Again, this one is difficult to parse. After leading the New England Patriots to six Superbowls, Brady signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020, claiming a seventh shoulder-shrugging title. He probably should have called it quits then, but instead returned for a second injury-marred season in 2021. He briefly announced his retirement in February 2022, but revoked it 40 days later to became the oldest quarterback to start a game in NFL history, ultimately crashing out in the play-offs for the second consecutive season. He announced his retirement for good in February this year.

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Buddy Franklin

Sydney Swans, 2023

After proving the doubters wrong by completing his record $10m/10-year deal and still managing to be a force on the field at the age of 36, Franklin had signed on for one more year in a deal announced before last year’s grand final. Alas, a calf injury forced him into retirement this week, in yet another victory for Father Time.

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Michael Jordan

Washington Wizards, 2003

Jordan put his imperial legacy on the line by coming out of retirement for the second time in 2001. While this is largely looked at as a failure, to be fair, Jordan was 40 years old in his last season and still managed to average 20 points a game. It only looks bad because his previous highs were so stratospheric. Needless to say, it didn’t really tarnish his legacy—he’s still rated by most pundits as the NBA’s GOAT, a claim reinforced by The Last Dance, which neatly omitted his Wizards’ stint.

Buddy Franklin announces shock retirement

The All-Blacks are in peak form ahead of the World Cup