You may hear television football pundits talk about football testimonial matches, but it may not be clear just what the game is or entails. A football testimonial match is a fixture that is played to honour a long-serving player to a particular club.
Testimonials are typically reserved for players who have been at a club for around 10 years or more. The matches are regularly held as that footballers’ time at the club is coming up due to retirement or moving onto another team. One of the aspects of a football testimonial match that often occurs is that the player being honoured will play a half for each team.
The teams are typically selected by the celebrated player as they choose former and current teammates as well as opponents. The games are an exhibition as they honour an individual for their outstanding career and devotion to one club.
Why do players have a football testimonial match?
Originally, the reason testimonial matches were held was to raise funds for the player being honoured. The player would then use this money towards retirement. Remember, there was a time when players didn’t make millions of pounds — or even hundreds of thousands — a season. The match was a gesture of “goodwill” allowing a footballer to move onto the next phase of life.
The money donated to the player came from ticket sales and donations. Today, in leagues such as the Premier League, players earn more money than ever before. Therefore, some of the money raised — sometimes all of it — is donated to charity.
Players who play in leagues in which the money is not t the same level as the Premier League, for example, League Two, clubs still hold testimonials for long-serving stars.
Modern football doesn’t see as many testimonial matches due to players moving clubs more often. In the past, players often stayed at one club for their entire careers.