The day the Great One, Wayne Gretzky, announced his retirement

All his fans knew the day would come when Wayne Gretzky would hang up his skates.

'I never wavered, I never budged — I know in my heart I'm making the right decision'

Wayne Gretzky announces his retirement

25 years ago
Duration 1:09
On April 16, 1999, the Great One confirmed he was retiring.

All his fans knew the day would come when Wayne Gretzky would hang up his skates.

That day arrived in April 1999 — with one small caveat.

"It's obvious that today, I am officially retired and Sunday will be my last game," Gretzky told a news conference on April 16, 1999. 

So yes, he was retired, but fans would have one last chance to see him lace up his skates in the NHL.

Hockey player on ice waving
Wayne Gretzky is seen waving to fans after playing in his last professional game in the NHL on April 18, 1999. (Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press)

'Making the right decision'

The Great One said he had known for months that he was coming up on the end of his career.

Magazine cover
A 21-year-old Wayne Gretzky is seen on the cover of Sports Illustrated. The Great One set dozens of NHL records during his career. (Sports Illustrated Magazine/Associated Press)

"I never wavered, I never budged — I know in my heart I'm making the right decision," said Gretzky, who, at age 38, was skating away from the game he had dominated for much of his playing career.

The Brantford, Ont.,-born Gretzky had been one of the best-known names in hockey since before his days as a pro, as he made his mark on the game as a youth and when he later became the youngest player on the Edmonton Oilers, then part of the WHA.

While he was in the NHL, the Canadian media covered every twist and turn of his career, from the four Stanley Cups he won in Edmonton, to his marriage to Janet Jones, to the day of the infamous trade that sent Gretzky to Los Angeles.

During his long career, he set dozens of records. To this day, no one has scored more goals, points or assists than him.

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