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A testimonial match or testimonial game, often referred to simply as a testimonial, is a practice in some sports, notably football and especially in the United Kingdommarker, where a club puts on a match in honour of a player for service to the club.

By tradition, clubs typically grant testimonials to players upon reaching 10 years of service with a club, although they sometimes are given to players with less service as they approach retirement. These matches are always non-competitive. Typically, former greats for the club are invited to participate, either in the match itself or the surrounding festivities. For especially prominent players, some all-time greats of the game may be invited, or the opposition can be a national team. Alternatively, if a player is strongly identified with more than one club team, the testimonial may involve the player's current and past clubs. All proceeds from the match go to the player; depending on the country, the income may be tax-free to the player.

The practice started in the days when players, even those at top professional clubs, were paid far less than they are today. Few players were able to live on their club wages, much less save for retirement. The testimonial was a charitable gesture by the club; as testimonials were typically very well-attended matches, the practice of giving the players the proceeds from the match often enabled the honorees either to retire or establish themselves in another line of work once they finished playing. This is still the main object of testimonials in Australia and some other countries.

In recent years, testimonials have been less frequent, especially in the top levels of European professional football and other sports in which the top players are able to make enormous salaries, many times the average wage. Today's top-level players in popular sports often have far less need for the money from a testimonial than players from the past would have. Also, because of changes in the structure of the professional game, players are far less likely to stay with one club for an extended period of time than in past decades. Finally, many fans are disinclined to come to testimonials for top professionals, since they are often perceived as giving a huge windfall to a player who most likely does not need the money. However, testimonial matches for players who have given many years of service to the club (i.e. one club men) and are popular with fans have a higher turnout.

Partly in response to this perception, testimonials in top-level football have increasingly become charitable affairs, where the player gives part or all of the proceeds to one or more charities. One notable example of a charitable testimonial was that of longtime Sunderland and Republic of Ireland star Niall Quinn in 2002. Quinn donated all of the nearly £1 million proceeds of a friendly at the Stadium of Lightmarker between Sunderland and the Republic to a charitable foundation he started; the money went to children's hospitals in Tyne and Wear, the Republicmarker and Indiamarker. Another, more recent, charitable testimonial of note was that of England rugby player Martin Johnson, held at Twickenhammarker on 4 June 2005. This event, which featured many rugby union greats (most notably Jonah Lomu), benefited children's and cancer charities.

See also


  1. BBC - Leeds - Sport - Lucas Radebe: The original Kaiser Chief
  2. News | Pressbox | Partick Thistle Football Club
  3. FOOTBALL: No wonder it's such a shambles | Sunday Mirror | Find Articles at BNET
  4. [1]
  5. BBC SPORT | SPORTS TALK | Should testimonials be scrapped?
  6. BBC SPORT | SPORTS TALK | Payback time for footballers?
  7. Time to Do Away With Testimonials for Rich Footballers

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