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Sports stars who quit at the top as Rosberg retires

Robbie Purves | 12 December 2016

Sports stars who quit at the top

Nico Rosberg shocked the world of sport recently when he announced he would be retiring from Formula One at the age of 31 on the back of winning the Drivers’ Championship, after dueling with Lewis Hamilton until the final day.

On his retirement, Rosberg said: “I have climbed my mountain, I am on the peak, so this feels right.”

While some sports stars choose to lengthen their careers and gradually fizzle out, a number opt to bow out on a high and be remembered at the peak of their powers.

Here, Coral sports writers pick out sports stars who quit at the top…

Eric Cantona

At just 30 years old Cantona called it a day on his career.

At just 30 years old Cantona called it a day on his career.

“Eric basically believes that he must go out at the top.”

Those are the words Sir Alex Ferguson produced after Old Trafford hero Cantona decided to call it a day at his peak.

On the back of lifting his fourth Premier League title in five years for Manchester United, the French enigma announced he would retire from football as United captain.

Cantona still had a year left on his Red Devils contract, but opted to hang up his boots with typical style in 1997.

His former side Man Utd are favourites to lift the EFL Cup at 6/5 with Coral this year.

Bill Russell

Russell dominated basketball during his career.

Russell dominated basketball during his career.

Russell’s basketball career ended as it began, as a champion.

The Boston Celtics legend had nothing to prove coming into his final season in 1969 having already won 10 NBA championships.

Russell, a 6ft 10in center, helped Boston defeat Wilt Chamberlain and the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals to win his 11th title.

During his illustrious career he only failed to win the sport’s top prize twice in 12 seasons. To this day he holds the record for the most amount of championship rings.

Rocky Marciano

After knocking out his last opponent, Marciano hung up his gloves.

After knocking out his last opponent, Marciano hung up his gloves.

Regarded by many as one of the greatest heavyweights to ever enter a ring, Marciano was renowned for his chin and brutal punching.

With 49 career wins 43 came by the way of knockout, which is still the finest record of any heavyweight who ever fought and retired undefeated.

His final bout was against Archie Moore in 1955, eventually knocking him out in the ninth round despite being knocked down earlier in the fight.

He was just 32 when he hung up his gloves in 1956 to spend time with his family.

Sir Jackie Stewart

Stewart retired on the high of winning the Drivers' Championship in Formula One.

Stewart retired on the high of winning the Drivers’ Championship in Formula One.

Formula One great Stewart retired on the back of winning his third and final World Drivers’ Championship in 1973.

Parallels can be made between Scotland’s racing hero Stewart and Rosberg, but the Scot seemed to cite safety fears as one of his main reasons.

Driving in Formula One’s most dangerous period the knighted driver said: “I always used to pause at the end of the driveway and take a long look back. I was never sure I’d come home again.”

Stewart retired one race away from his 100th Grand Prix.

Bjorn Borg

Borg retired in his physical prime at just 26 years old.

Borg retired in his physical prime at just 26 years old.

Borg shot to prominence so quickly and stayed at his peak so effortlessly in a remarkably short tennis career.

The Swede dominated between ages 18 and 25, winning 11 Grand Slam trophies, including five consecutive Wimbledon and six French Open titles.

However, he shocked sport when at the age of 26 he announced his retirement from tennis in his physical prime.

Sir Alex Ferguson

Ferguson's feats at Man Utd will likely never be surpassed.

Ferguson’s feats at Man Utd will likely never be surpassed and features in our sports stars who quit at the top.

After 26 years as Man Utd boss, Ferguson retired after winning his 13th Premier League title.

The Scot lifted 38 trophies while at Old Trafford, including two Champions League crowns in an era in which his club dominated football.

He retired as perhaps the greatest ever manager to patrol a dugout and transformed the fortunes of the Red Devils.

Flavia Pennetta

Pennetta bowed out after winning the US Open in 2015.

Pennetta bowed out after winning the US Open in 2015.

Standing next to her dear friend after winning her first and only Grand Slam title at the US Open, Pennetta leaned over to her fellow finalist and whispered to Roberta Vinci she was about to retire.

The victory at 33 years old, made her the oldest woman to win a debut major championship in the modern era.

Jupp Heynckes

Heynckes couldn't have asked for a better send off.

Heynckes couldn’t have asked for a better send off.

After ending his managerial career winning the treble in 2013, Heynckes said: “I can assure you that I have no intention of coaching again. I had a worthy ending.”

And what an ending it was. The German led Bayern to a terrific trio of major titles culminating in a 2-1 win over Bundesliga rivals Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League final.

Chris Hoy

After an all conquering 2012 Olympics, Hoy soon retired.

After an all conquering 2012 Olympics, Hoy soon retired.

Edinburgh-born Hoy retired as an eleven-time world champion and six-time Olympic champion. With a total of seven Olympic medals, six Gold and one Silver, Hoy is the second most decorated Olympic cyclist of all time.

At the 2012 World Cup, the dominant cyclist overtook Sir Steve Redgrave and became the most successful British olympian ever, winning a total of six Golds.

Hoy retired less than a year later and is now a racing driver.

Marion Bartoli

Bartoli called time on her career after emerging victorious from Wimbledon.

Bartoli called time on her career after emerging victorious from Wimbledon.

French female tennis player Bartoli hung up her racket after reaching the zenith of her career in 2013.

Bartoli won Wimbledon in her final year, triumphing in straight sets for her first and only Grand Slam title.

She did not drop a set in the entire tournament and retired that very year.

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