MEM­O­RABLE SPORT­ING FAREWELLS

Eng­land cricket great Alas­tair Cook served up a cen­tury in his last test this week. DAN BEAVAN looks at other sports stars who signed off in style

Coventry Telegraph - - SMARTER FOR 10 -

1 SINCE burst­ing onto the in­ter­na­tional crick­et­ing scene at the age of 21, Alas­tair Cook has been a record-break­ing run ma­chine for Eng­land. He will re­tire as Eng­land’s high­est run scorer (12,472), most-capped player (161) and the fastest player to reach 12,000 test runs. His 147 against In­dia book­ends a mag­nif­i­cent ca­reer – Cook notched up a cen­tury on his Eng­land de­but – and was rightly greeted by a mas­sive ova­tion at the Oval. 2 NICO ROS­BERG be­lieves in quit­ting while you’re ahead. Af­ter twice fin­ish­ing sec­ond to Lewis Hamil­ton in the For­mula One Drivers’ Cham­pi­onship, the Ger­man pipped his arch-ri­val to the ti­tle in 2016 af­ter a tense fi­nal race in Abu Dhabi, right. He re­tired five days later, pre­sum­ably when his hang­over cleared up. 3 FOOT­BALLING icon Pele was al­ways a great fin­isher – 694 goals in 650 games proves it. That held true in his last match, a friendly be­tween New York Cos­mos and his for­mer club San­tos. Pele, right, played a half for each side, scor­ing a 30-yard free kick for Cos­mos. His abil­ity to rise to the oc­ca­sion later won him a job as a spokesper­son for Vi­a­gra. 4 UN­LIKE his se­quel-lov­ing­movie name­sake, box­ing great Rocky Mar­ciano knew when to call it quits. The leg­endary gritty puge­list ended his ca­reer un­de­feated as a pro in 1955, af­ter 49 fights. He went out as World Champ, com­ing back from an early knock­down to beat Archie Moore at Yan­kee Sta­dium. 5 KOBE Bryant, pic­tured, is a con­tro­ver­sial fig­ure in bas­ket­ball cir­cles. His off the field con­tro­ver­sies and prickly per­son­al­ity made ‘Black Mamba’ (his self-as­signed nick­name) hard for many fans to love, de­spite a stel­lar ca­reer... but he sure could make an exit. In his fi­nal game for The Lak­ers, Kobe scored 60 of his team’s points in a 101-96 win. 6 PETE Sam­pras won so of­ten that it’s hardly sur­pris­ing he went out with a vic­tory. But the fact that the tennis star’s fi­nal tri­umph came in the 2002 US Open fi­nal – se­cur­ing his 14th Grand Slam ti­tle – over long-time ri­val An­dre Agassi must have made it all the sweeter for ‘Pis­tol Pete’. 7 ALAS­TAIR Cook is not the only bats­man to sign off with a ton. In his fi­nal test be­fore re­tir­ing from in­ter­na­tional cricket, big hit­ting New Zealan­der Bren­dan McCul­lum took the phrase ‘leav­ing bash’ lit­er­ally, smash­ing the fastest ever test cen­tury off just 54 balls on his way to a to­tal of 145 against bit­ter ri­vals Aus­tralia. 8 LEN­NOX Lewis will go down as one of Bri­tain’s great­est box­ers. He ce­mented that rep­u­ta­tion in his fi­nal bout, re­tir­ing as undis­puted heavy­weight champ af­ter stop­ping Vi­taly Kl­itschko in a bruis­ing en­counter. 9 THE fi­nal time baseball icon Lou Gehrig donned the uni­form of his beloved Yan­kees was an un­for­get­table sport­ing farewell. Forced to re­tire af­ter be­ing di­ag­nosed with mo­tor neu­rone dis­ease, Gehrig ad­dressed fans from the field, pro­claim­ing him­self ‘the luck­i­est man on the face of the the Earth’ as the crowd chanted ‘We Love you Lou’. 10 ZINE­DINE Zi­dane’s last match was mem­o­rable, but for all the wrong rea­sons. Af­ter lead­ing France to the World Cup Fi­nal in 2002, the mid­fielder looked set to end his ca­reer as a na­tional hero. In­stead, he was sent off for a crazy head­butt on Ital­ian Marco Mat­er­azzi, as his side slid to de­feat.

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