Michael Owen called time on his career but there was to be no fairy-tale ending, as Stoke were held to a 1-1 draw at Southampton.
After an illustrious career that has taken him to Liverpool, Real Madrid, Newcastle and Manchester United, the former England striker announced in March that this was to be his last season. The clash got off to a blistering start with Adam Lallana hitting the post and Rickie Lambert having a goal chalked off for offside inside the opening 31 seconds.
That was as good as it got in a poor first half, with Stoke returning after the break with a bang as Peter Crouch headed them ahead within two minutes. Lambert netted the 15th goal of his debut Barclays Premier League season to level and, with 16 minutes remaining, Owen came on to a standing ovation from all four corners of the ground.
Saints got off to a fine start at St Mary's and Lallana saw a fine low strike tipped onto the post by Asmir Begovic, with Lambert lashing home the rebound from a tight angle but the flag was up. Lambert then fired a long-range effort wide, before heading over when backpedalling to meet a Nathaniel Clyne cross.
The Potters went ahead 67 minutes into the second half when Geoff Cameron swung in a fine right-wing cross to Crouch and the former Southampton striker headed past Kelvin Davis in front of the 2,767 travelling fans.
The goal seemed to kick-start Southampton into life and a fine cut-back by Clyne was struck goalwards by Steven Davis, whose effort would have found the back of the net had it not been for Asmir Begovic's fine reactions.
The former Portsmouth goalkeeper did well to block a fierce Lambert shot shortly afterwards, but could not hold Saints at bay for long.
Begovic did excellently to stop a Davis strike sneaking in but Lambert was alert to fire home the rebound, ending a 621-minute wait for a goal.
Were it not for the reactions of Ryan Shawcross, Saints could have turned the game on its head almost immediately.
Substitute Andy Wilkinson directed the ball dangerously towards his own goal but the Stoke captain rose highest to head the ball clear away from danger.