Former Celtic defender Emilio Izaguirre looking at unusual retirement path

By Euan Davidson

August 3, 2021

Former Celtic defender Emilio Izaguirre is set to become a preacher in Honduras following his retirement from football.

Izaguirre, currently at Marathón, has his sights set on spiritual pursuits when he hangs up his boots. And he’s attributed his ruthless professionalism and personal morals in large part to his two stints in Glasgow.

Izaguirre, who joined the Bhoys in 2010, was Scottish Players’ Player of the Year in 2011 [BBC]. The clean-living left-back was a star for Celtic, helping the Hoops on their way to 9IAR. He enjoyed two spells in Scotland, initially leaving in 2017 and returning a year later.

It turns out that Emilio Izaguirre picked up more than trophies at Celtic Park.

Looking to his retirement from football, Izaguirre said [via Daily Record]:

“I want to lead by example and help them as others helped me and be successful in following God.

“I try to be disciplined and I learned that when I was in Europe with Celtic. My teammates there would hold parties every month and would drink. They told me it was a sin not to drink.

“But I maintained my discipline and gained respect from my teammates and the fans who understood that I would never have a beer with them.

“When we went to Dubai, they would go and party and I would go and see my wife and children instead because my family are the greatest blessing and that’s all because of God.”

Emilio Izaguirre is taking an unusual post-playing path, and fair play to him

You’re a long time retired, as you say. Many players go into punditry, coaching, or the after-dinner circuit. Instead of saying “well, Clive, I don’t think much of zonal marking” on TV, Izaguirre is following spiritual pursuits.

That doesn’t mean he’s any less interested in the game, though. Just last month, Izaguirre was recommending players to his former club, in the form of Kervin Arriaga [Diez].

Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

It looked as if, from that, Izaguirre might have a future as an agent, or a scout. However, it sounds like football is secondary to his faith and his family.

In a way it’s quite sad that Scotland, and specifically his teammates, tested him to such a degree that he’s considering a pastoral life. Maybe it speaks volumes about the country’s drinking culture, and the social pressures therein.

Either way, it’s encouraging to see footballers, or indeed anyone, following their passions after decades of being in the spotlight. There are clichés aplenty in football, but Izaguirre’s post-playing intentions are the furthest thing from what’s expected of a former footballer.

So, fair play to him. Hopefully, he has kind memories of his time in Glasgow, amongst the times he felt tested or pressured. If it’s led to something that makes him feel truly fulfilled, then that’s not such a bad thing.

In other news: the next Sutton or Sinclair?