Aritz Aduriz Retirement Brings the Career of Football's Benjamin Button to an End

Aritz Aduriz
Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Aritz Aduriz has announced his retirement from professional football at the age of 39.

With the swirling uncertainty of the coronavirus outbreak resulting in La Liga being halted, the Spanish striker has confirmed that he will not see the season out.

In a heartfelt message posted on Twitter, Aduriz revealed a hip operation he was instructed to take by doctors has been the deciding factor, claiming his body has now said 'enough'.

It's a desperately sad situation for a player who was due to play one of his final matches in the first ever all-Basque Copa del Rey final later this season, as his beloved Athletic Bilbao were due to take on Real Sociedad in the competition's showpiece.

Instead, his final appearance for the club will have come as a late substitute during victory against Real Valladolid back in March.

It means La Liga will now bid farewell to a player whose career path followed a unique route. A regular goalscorer, while not prolific, in his early career, he only scored his first top flight goal during the 2005/06 season when he was already in his mid-20s.

The following seven seasons with Athletic Club, Mallorca and Valencia never saw him surpass 12 league goals in a single campaign, where, should his career have ended there, he would have still been remembered as a fine, consistent centre forward.

But to those who would see him entering his early 30s and predict a downturn in form, they had something else in store. Aduriz's career had only just begun.

He scored roughly half of his career goals between the ages of 31 and 37, as the youthful exuberance he previously had during his career was clearly some sort of hindrance, with the true Aduriz was about to be unleashed.

Returning to Athletic Club in 2012 - his third spell with the side - brought new riches and opened a previously untapped vein of ability, as the striker would go on to relish the familiar surroundings with the greatest spell of his career.

Aritz Aduriz
Soccrates Images/Getty Images

We've seen players continue into their latter years and maintain some level of form, but Aduriz found a way to enhance his talent and propel himself into newfound territory.

Between 2012 and 2018 he bagged a staggering 142 goals, strikes that went some way to helping him claim the only domestic trophy in his career, the Supercopa de España in 2015.

It was as if the clocks turned back. Suddenly a new Aduriz had emerged, one who struck fear into defences, and gave centre-backs a torrid afternoon every weekend. His goal rate was astounding, and the quality of his strikes likewise.

His swansong wasn't quite as he had expected, but his final league goal as a professional will go some way to stamping the fine legacy he forged: an 89th-minute bicycle kick winner against Barcelona on the opening day of the 2019/20 season.

Spanish football will miss the evergreen forward, but so will the rest of football.

For more from Ross Kennerley, follow him on Twitter!