Netherlands and Ajax legend Marco van Basten has confessed that his early retirement from football at the age of 28 was a massive fall and a really dark time in his life. The 56-year-old is considered to be one of the greatest strikers to ever play football with him even winning three Ballon d’Ors.
Despite retiring at the age of 31, Marco van Basten is considered to be one of the greatest ever players to play football despite a persistent ankle injury. It forced the Dutch international into early retirement at 31 although he hadn’t played for two years by then. Yet despite that, the now 56-year-old walked away with numerous titles to his name including three Eredivisie titles, three Scudettos, two European Cups and a catalogue of other trophies during his time with Ajax and AC Milan.
Not only that, the Dutch striker won three Ballon d’Ors and lead the Dutch national side to the UEFA Euro 1988 where he won the golden boot including a stunning goal in the final to seal the game. But his persistent injuries saw Van Basten retire early and the Dutch international admitted that it was “a really dark time” for him. He further added that he was a “little afraid” because of the number of surgeries and problems he was having.
"It was very difficult because I went from the highest level in football down to the lowest level of personal unhappiness. It was a very big fall and a really dark time. I was at the maximum of my career, and things that followed were nice and beautiful. But, all of a sudden, in 1993, I played my last game in the same stadium. Everything went down. There was a lot of pain and problems. You could say that in those five years I had my whole international career,” Van Basten told the Guardian.
“After a lot of problems with operations I was limping. I couldn’t do anything without pain. I was really handicapped and the doctors couldn’t help me. I was a little afraid. It had gone from bad to worse. After many operations, and seeing doctors from all over the world, I had tried everything, but we couldn’t find the solution. There was a moment in 1996 I had to say: ‘I have to try to get healthy.’ We made a decision to fuse my ankle. For a sportsman, and I was still only 32, that’s the worst choice. But I had to stop the pain.”