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
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.