Whilst many Premier League footballers retire at the top of their game, many also wind down their careers by dropping down into the Championship or the Football League in order to gain regular playing time.
If a player has had a career where they’ve been an integral part of the team, the idea of sitting on the bench and used sparingly as part of the squad rotation system must be very uncomfortable and to an extent actually quite humiliating.
By moving to a club in a lower division a footballer can stretch out their playing career for a good few years.
Most of the Premier League players since the inception of the league would have earned a very good weekly wage so in theory money wouldn’t be a motivator when it comes to choosing a new club.
Wages within the Premier League have risen sharply year on year since Chris Sutton became the first £10,000 per week footballer when he moved from Norwich City to Blackburn Rovers in 1994 and the average wage is now £44,000 per week.
Money aside, a player might choose a lower league club for a number of reasons for example it could be the team that they supported as a boy or they move into a player coach role with a view to moving into that area once they do finally retire.
With this in mind we take a look at 11 legends of the Premier League who moved to clubs within the lower leagues before hanging up their boots for good.
Andy Cole – Nottingham Forest
One of the Premier League’s all time top goalscorers, Andrew Cole returned to his home town club Nottingham Forest in 2008 after a successful spell at Burnley (on loan from Sunderland) where he had scored 6 goals in 13 games.
Unfortunately after playing 11 games without scoring and an overall lack of first team opportunities, Cole’s contract was terminated and he retired from playing in November 2008.
He has since gone on record to say that the whole situation was a very disappointing end to his 19 year career.
Dietmar Hamann – MK Dons
After 11 years playing in the Premier League, former Liverpool midfielder Dietmar Hamann moved to MK Dons in 2010 as a player coach.
Hamann played only 12 times for the club before retiring and moving to Leicester City eight months later as a first team coach under his former Manchester City manager Sven-Goran Eriksson.
Don Hutchison – Luton Town
The much travelled Don Hutchison joined League One side Luton Town in 2007 playing 21 times in a team full of experienced professionals.
Although tipped as favourites to win the league that year, Luton Town had a horrendous season and actually ended up getting relegated to League Two.
Hutchison never officially announced his retirement from playing but Luton Town was his last professional club.
He is still regarded very highly by Luton Town fans as he refused his final pay packet from the club and instead used it to sponsor two of the club’s youth players.
Tim Sherwood – Coventry City
A Premier League winning captain with Blackburn Rovers Tim Sherwood joined Coventry City on a two year deal
in 2004 and was appointed the club’s captain.
Unfortunately Sherwood’s time at the club was a disaster and he was hugely unpopular with the fans due to his constant injuries, high wages and the fact that he appeared as a TV pundit at the same time as his side were in action.
Tim Sherwood ended up only playing 11 times for the club and he left by mutual consent after only a year.
Kevin Kilbane – Coventry City
Kilbane joined League One side Coventry City as club captain in 2012 but only played six times before retiring six months into his one year contract.
His premature retirement was down to a back injury and the fact that he had lost his desire and hunger for playing.
Ian Wright – Burnley
Arsenal’s legendary former striker Ian Wright joined Burnley in February 2000 after a spell at Celtic ended prematurely when he was told that there was no guarantee of first team football.
Wright had already announced his intentions to retire at the end of the 2000-01 season so joined up with second division side Burnley for the remainder of the season.
He ended up playing 15 times for the club, scoring four goals and helping them achieve promotion in his short time at the club.
Teddy Sheringham – Colchester
Another Premier League legend, Teddy Sheringham moved to Championship side Colchester United for the 2007-08 season playing 19 games and scoring 3 goals.
Unfortunately his season and ultimately his career ended in disappointment as Colchester were relegated to League One at the end of the season.
Teddy Sheringham was 41 years old when he finally retired and played more than 700 league games.
Edgar Davids – Barnet
In 2012, to the surprise of many, Dutch superstar Edgar Davids joined League Two side Barnet as player manager.
During his two year spell at the club he played 36 times and scored once but he also got sent off three times.
Unable to avoid relegation in his first season, Davids retired from playing at the end of 2013 and resigned from his managerial post a couple of weeks later.
Rob Lee – Wycombe Wanderers
After being released by West Ham United former Premier League midfielder Rob Lee joined League Two side Wycombe Wanderers on a match by match basis in 2005 at the age of 39.
He went onto play 38 times for the Chairboys before retiring from professional football at the end of the 2005-06 season.
Ray Parlour – Hull City
Legendary Arsenal midfielder Ray Parlour moved to Hull City at the start of 2007 after being released by Middlesbrough.
Hull were struggling in The Championship at the time and Parlour was bought in to add valuable experience to the team.
The move paid off and Parlour ended up playing 15 times for the side and helped them avoid relegation to League One before retiring at the end of the season.
Dennis Wise – Coventry
After leaving Southampton, Chelsea legend Dennis Wise joined Championship side Coventry City in January 2006 on a six month contract.
His time at Coventry was extremely successful and he scored 6 times in his 13 appearances including a spectacular overhead kick from outside of the area.
Although Coventry offered Wise a new 12 month contract he refused as he felt it was time to hang up his boots.
For more information on ex Premier League footballers check out The Premier League Heroes website.