Eight players who definitely will or probably should retire after Euro 2024, including selfish Ronaldo

Matt Stead
Germany midfielder Toni Kroos, Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo and Croatia player Luka Modric
Euro 2024 might be the last dance for some of the game's finest players

Cristiano Ronaldo is “without doubt” not going to play at another Euros; he must extend that for Portugal’s sake. Toni Kroos may have the perfect retirement.


Toni Kroos
Having long since decided Real Madrid would be the second and final permanent club of his career, Kroos was typically efficient and uncomplicated in announcing his future plans in May: he would leave the Bernabeu upon the expiration of his contract, and then depart football altogether at the end of a home Euros.

He later underlined the importance of retiring “in the best way” and is certainly bowing out at something close to his peak, pocketing another Champions League winner’s medal with an assist for the opening goal in the final, while helping guide Germany to the last eight and, perhaps fittingly, a game against Spain.

Kroos has already expanded his collection of trophies to 33 this season; if he adds another honour to match his age in years before strolling into the sunset then it would be difficult to think of a more commanding retirement.

READ MORE: Kroos and Germany teammates in Euro 2024 team of the tournament so far


Cristiano Ronaldo
It is as stark a contrast as possible to this, Ronaldo’s 11th and and very possibly last major international tournament with Portugal.

The player himself confirmed it to be “without doubt” his final Euros at least after producing the most arrogant display in football history against Slovenia, in which he had eight more shots without scoring and was actively detrimental to the Portugal cause before finally beating Jan Oblak from the spot in a shootout.

Ronaldo was indebted to Diogo Costa then but has spent the summer being bailed out by an assortment of other teammates while Roberto Martinez refuses to countenance dropping the 39-year-old, despite him evidently being no longer close to the requisite quality.

Manchester United at their worst realised that catering to the whims of this poor imitation of Ronaldo caused a laughable imbalance in the team and was not nearly justified by his dwindling output and performances at any meaningful, relevant level of elite competition. Portugal, who otherwise have an immensely talented squad and an actual chance of repeating their Euro 2016 triumph, are avoiding the same painful but necessary conclusion.


Olivier Giroud
“This will be my last competition with Les Bleus. I’m going to miss it a lot. We need to make way for the youngsters. You also have to be careful not to have one season too many. You have to find the right balance,” said Giroud in May, the 37-year-old realising his time is up.

The all-time record scorer in the history of the French national team, Giroud has not been a regular starter for his country since the 2022 World Cup. His goals helped eliminate Poland and England en route to defeat in the final, when he was taken off after 41 chastening minutes against Argentina.

Giroud has played 45 minutes at Euro 2024, all as a substitute, and will be on hand to contribute when necessary to try and end his national service with the perfect complement to his 2018 World Cup winner’s medal.


Luka Modric
It would be a grave shame if that haunting medieval tapestry snapshot of a shirtless Modric, ashen-faced with his man-of-the-match award after Croatia did not quite do enough against Italy to advance from the group stage, was the enduring international image of a phenomenal player.

Modric quietly fought back against the idea his light was fading when implored by a journalist never to retire after the game, responding: “I’d like to keep playing forever but there will probably be a time I’ll have to hang up my boots. I’ll keep playing on, I don’t know for how much longer.”

Croatia will keep that door open for as long as they can, but the changing circumstances might put the 2026 World Cup out of reach for the 38-year-old Modric. He has agreed a one-year contract extension with Real Madrid and started just 23 of their 55 matches this past season.


Manuel Neuer
“I don’t want to reveal it now. I will think things over after the tournament,” Neuer said of a potential international retirement after the Euros.

The 38-year-old perhaps did not even expect to make it following a leg fracture in December 2022 and a thigh injury which sidelined him for the build-up friendlies in March. He surely did not foresee taking the gloves as the starter in an eighth consecutive World Cup or Euros for his country, the last few of which have been a miserable experience for the Germans.

But Neuer has played a part in their push towards becoming a championship force once more, raising the possibility of being able to exit, stage left in far more fitting circumstances. Next season is reported to be both his and Thomas Muller’s last with Bayern Munich; they would realise the implications that has with Germany too.

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There might only be as many as three more games during and after which people can freely cite the age of Pepe and chuck in a wine emoji without looking clinically insane. And to be fair, there was not a great deal of that after the Slovenia game, considering the 41-year-old’s cataclysmic error to let in Benjamin Sesko went unpunished and was soon buried under the perennial Ronaldo Sideshow.

The oldest player in European Championship history “hasn’t thought about” the future beyond what methods he will deploy to stay awake for a major tournament quarter-final between Roberto Martinez and Didier Deschamps. There can be no greater test of endurance or longevity.


Kevin De Bruyne and Jan Vertonghen
Two of the remaining bastions of Belgium’s Golden Generation might well call it a day together. De Bruyne and Vertonghen are both centurions in terms of caps and even more experienced when it comes to falling short of immense expectations.

De Bruyne wanted time to “process” the France defeat but the theory remains that his brilliant club form cannot be consistently replicated for his country. It would be a terrible shame for one of Vertonghen’s last Belgium touches to be that own goal which sealed their last-16 exit but Nani, Marouane Fellaini and Helder Postiga scored on his international debut and in 2024 that only points towards one conclusion.