6 stars who quit football early from Michael Johnson to Eric Cantona

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The career of a professional footballer is never a particularly long one – but there are those who call time on their occupation earlier than others, some even before their 30th birthdays.

From Manchester City midfielder Michael Johnson to Manchester United icon Eric Cantona, there are a multitude of reasons why the stars decide to quit at a relatively young age.

From injuries and boredom to aspirations in other walks of life, football doesn't always provide the enjoyment and sustenance that supporters might expect from the outside.

With former Chelsea and Fulham forward Andre Schurrle recently ending his career before turning 30, Daily Star Sport have taken a look at six stars who retired too soon.

Michael Johnson

Michael Johnson took Manchester City by storm after making his debut as a teenager way back in 2006, going on to make a total of 25 appearances the following season.

The England youth midfielder impressed spectators with his ability to operate from box-to-box, scoring goals as well as providing a valuable defensive contribution.

After a loan at Leicester in 2011/12, Johnson left City the following December after making only four competitive first team appearances for the club in his final five seasons.

Johnson has since spoke openly about his mental health, and deserves the upmost respect for his honesty after what must've been a troubling period for any young player.

He told The Athletic last year: "I was going out and having a few drinks as a way of dealing with my emotions, to try to give myself a temporary high and feel good about myself for a short period… I was trying to escape my feelings by drinking."

Before adding: "Playing football didn't make me happy. I thought it was going to, which is why I put all my energy into that. But it didn't. "

Andre Schurrle

Andre Schurrle went from World Cup winner with Germany and Premier League winner with Chelsea to retirement across a period of just six seasons, calling it a day before turning 30.

The former Mainz and Bayer Leverkusen forward fared well during his season and a half at Stamford Bridge, scoring 11 times across 44 league outings while picking up a winners medal.

Following a tricky spell with Borussia Dortmund following a £30m switch, he joined Fulham on a two-season loan – but failed to impress despite some stunning goals as they were relegated.

That second season was scrapped, and he then scored twice in 18 games for Spartak Moscow before calling time on his playing days at the age of 29 on July 17 last year.

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David Bentley

David Bentley was tipped to be the new David Beckham while impressing at Blackburn after leaving Arsenal, but failed to build on early promised and retired in 2013.

The eight-time England International earned a move to Tottenham following a fine 2007/08 Premier League campaign, but managed only five goals in 65 outings and slipped down the pecking order.

Following loans at Birmingham, West Ham, FC Rostov and back to Blackburn, he called time on his career in 2014 at the age of 29 – saying that he had lost his passion for the sport.

Didier Deschamps

Didier Deschamps might have boosted his successful coaching career by calling time on his playing days at the age of just 32 in the middle of 2001.

The former Marseille, Juventus and briefly Chelsea defender won 11 major trophies with club and country, and is one of only three bosses to win the World Cup as a player and a manager after Mario Zagallo and Franz Beckenbauer.

Eric Cantona famously noted him as a "water carrier" towards the end of his playing days, but his career as a player and a manager can not be argued with.

Marco Van Basten

Marco Van Basten's career was hit by injuries, forcing him to end his career at the age of 31 following two whole seasons of trying to get back to full fitness.

His goal during the Netherland's victory over USSR in the Euro 1988 final remains one of the greatest goals of all time, and his career numbers are just as impressive.

Having managed 154 goals in 174 games for Ajax, 128 goals in 205 fixtures for Milan followed, with 24 in 58 for his country alongside 23 major honours.

Eric Cantona

Eric Cantona, The King, transformed the plight of Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United when he opted to join from rivals Leeds following a brief spell.

The former Marseille forward became a favourite of the legendary Scot, scoring 82 goals across a total of 185 appearances as they picked up four titles in five seasons.

Following 11 goals in 1996/97, the 45-time France international retired at the age of 30, going on to enjoy his time as captain of the French national beach soccer team from 1997 to 2006.

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  • Premier League
  • Manchester City FC
  • Chelsea FC
  • Fulham FC
  • Ajax FC
  • AC Milan FC
  • Tottenham Hotspur FC

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