Marouane Fellaini announces his retirement

Belgian Marouane Fellaini has announced his retirement from football at the age of 36, leaving behind a career marked by his stint in the English Premier League, as a player for Everton and Manchester United, and in which he played 87 matches for his national team.

“What an incredible adventure! I am very grateful to have practiced the sport I love the most at the highest level,” Fellaini wrote in a post shared on his Instagram account, accompanied by a video with images of some of his goals.

The former Belgian footballer, of Moroccan descent, played 18 seasons throughout his career, but was without a team since November last year, when he ended his contract with the Chinese club Shandong Taishan, where he had been playing since 2019.

Before going to China, he played eleven seasons in the English league between 2008 and 2019. He spent five full seasons at Everton and then six at Manchester United.

At Old Trafford, Fellaini won a Europa League (2017), an FA Cup (2017), a League Cup (2016) and an English Super Cup (2017).

With his national team, he was part of one of the best generations of players in the history of Belgian football and played in two World Cups (2014 and 2018) and a European Championship (2016), being a starter in most occasions, as well as participating in the Olympic Games, in Beijing 2008.

In the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Fellaini and the Red Devils finished in third place, which is the best result ever achieved by Belgium in all their participations in the tournament.

With 87 matches played for the national team, he is, to date, the sixth player with the most caps for Belgium, with 18 goals scored.

In total, throughout his career, he played, between clubs and national team, 580 matches, scoring 118 goals and giving 59 assists. Fellaini, iconic for his afro hair and recognizable on the field for his 1.94 meters height, played as a midfielder, a position in which he stood out for his powerful header and his versatile character, capable of offering good performances both in attack and defense.

In Belgium, he made his professional debut in 2006 at Standard Liege, with which he won a league in the 2007-2008 season

Fellaini’s performance in China: a mixed bag

Marouane Fellaini, the former Belgian international who retired from football at the age of 36, spent four seasons in the Chinese Super League, playing for Shandong Luneng Taishan. His numbers in China show a mixed bag of results, with some highs and lows.

Fellaini joined Shandong in February 2019, after leaving Manchester United. In his first season, he scored 13 goals and gave 5 assists in 34 matches, with an average of 0.38 goals per game. He also helped his team win the Chinese FA Cup and reach the quarter-finals of the AFC Champions League, where they lost to eventual champions Al-Hilal.

In 2020, Fellaini had a slightly lower output, scoring 8 goals and giving no assists in 23 matches, with an average of 0.35 goals per game. He also contracted COVID-19 in March and had to spend three weeks in hospital. His team finished sixth in the league and did not qualify for any continental competition.

In 2021, Fellaini had his best season in China, scoring 11 goals and giving no assists in 21 matches, with an average of 0.52 goals per game. He was the top scorer of his team and the fourth highest scorer in the league. He also scored a hat-trick in the opening match of the season against Dalian Pro. Shandong Taishan was confirmed as the 2021 Chinese Super League champion with three matches still to play after beating Hebei FC 2-0 on Sunday, December 26, 20211. This was their fourth CSL title and fifth Chinese title in their history. They also qualified for the 2022 AFC Champions League.

In 2022, Fellaini had his worst season in China, scoring 7 goals and giving 4 assists in 28 matches, with an average of 0.25 goals per game. He also received 10 yellow cards and one red card, showing his lack of discipline. His team finished eighth in the league and did not win any trophy.

Overall, Fellaini scored 39 goals and gave 9 assists in 106 matches for Shandong, with an average of 0.37 goals per game. He also won two Chinese FA Cup and the Superlea League once, also reaching the quarter-finals of the AFC Champions League. He was a key player for his team, but also a controversial one, often involved in fouls and disputes.

Fellaini’s legacy in the Chinese Super League

Marouane Fellaini, the former Manchester United and Belgium midfielder, retired from football at the age of 36, after spending four seasons in the Chinese Super League (CSL) with Shandong Taishan. His impact in the Chinese league was significant, both on and off the pitch.

On the pitch, Fellaini was a dominant force in the midfield, scoring 39 goals and providing 9 assists in 106 matches for Shandong, with an average of 0.37 goals per game. He also won four trophies with the club, including the CSL title in 2021 and three Chinese FA Cups. He was the captain of the team and a leader in the dressing room, inspiring his teammates with his work ethic and passion.

Off the pitch, Fellaini was a popular figure among the fans and the media, attracting attention and interest to the CSL. He was one of the most recognizable foreign players in the league, with his iconic afro hair and towering height. He also embraced the Chinese culture and learned some Mandarin, earning respect and admiration from the locals.

Fellaini was also a trailblazer for other foreign players who followed him to China, such as Oscar, Hulk, and Paulinho. He showed that the CSL was a competitive and attractive destination for players who wanted a new challenge and a lucrative contract. He also helped raise the profile and the quality of the league, which in turn benefited the Chinese national team and the development of the sport in the country.

Fellaini’s career in China was not without challenges, however. He faced some difficulties adapting to the different style of play, the climate, and the food. He also contracted COVID-19 in 2020 and had to spend three weeks in hospital, becoming the first confirmed case in the CSL. He also had some disciplinary issues, receiving 10 yellow cards and one red card in his last season.

Despite these setbacks, Fellaini left a lasting impression in the Chinese league, and will be remembered as one of the best foreign players to ever play in the CSL.

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