Kazuyoshi Miura attends the World Cup Ambassador appointment press conference
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Top Ten Oldest Football Players

| 23.05.2018

Compared to most jobs, being a footballer is a relatively short career. Most players will hang up their boots after 12-15 years at the top.

The majority of players will retire by their mid-30s, with few continuing in elite competition beyond 35-years-old. It’s slightly different for goalkeepers, with many playing on until 37 or 38-years-old.

And players will often retire from international duty earlier than in their club careers. The extended travelling can hinder club performance.  Alan Shearer continued his club career for six years after calling time on his England stint.

But a few exceptional outfield players have managed to extend their careers beyond what many can achieve. They’ve done so in a number of ways, with all of them escaping serious injury. 

There is a general pattern among the top divisions in England, Spain and Italy. All three leagues have had many players continue well into their 40s. Take a look at the latest football and player betting odds here.

Ryan Giggs

Ryan Giggs manager of Wales

Ryan Giggs emerged on the scene as a dazzling 17-year-old left-winger in 1991.

The Welshman was still an active member of the squad some 23 years later as a 40-year-old veteran. Along the way he won 13 Premier League titles and the Champions League twice.

Giggs altered his game in later years to extend his playing career. From a rapid winger he became a holding midfielder.

Giggs also took up yoga and credited it with having a big impact on maintaining his fitness.

Teddy Sheringham

English footballer Teddy Sheringham, of Tottenham Hotspur, during an English Premier League

Teddy Sheringham is one of the Premier League’s greatest strikers, and his longevity is a big reason why.

The former Manchester United ace enjoyed a 25-year-career. He took great pride in ensuring his own personal fitness was at peak condition.

Sheringham was still a registered player when aged 49-years-old at Stevenage, and he remains the oldest goalscorer in the Premier League.

Gareth McAuley

Northern Ireland's defender Gareth McAuley addresses a press conference at the team's training ground

West Bromwich Albion defender Gareth McAuley was one of the oldest players in the Premier League last season, appearing at 38 years of age.

The Northern Irishman has been an integral part of the Baggies’ defence, and he’s chipped in with plenty of goals too.

McAuley has also played an important role in Northern Ireland’s recent rise up the international rankings. He helped the Green and Whites reach the 2016 European Championships, scoring in the 2-0 win over Ukraine.

Peter Crouch

Peter Crouch of England celebrates as he scores their first goal during the International Friendly

Peter Crouch made his Premier League debut in 2001, and is still going strong 17 years later, having scored more than 100 Premier League goals along the way.

The tall striker has become a crowd favourite in recent years, and has scored some sensational strikes too.

Crouch has claimed he wants to play on until he’s 40-years-old, so the 6ft 7in striker may be a target man for a few years yet.

Gareth Barry 

Gareth Barry of Everton walks on to the field ahead of the UEFA Europa League Round

Gareth Barry is the Premier League’s record appearance holder. The midfielder has played in more than 650 Premier League games.

Barry has attributed his top-flight success with a combination of playing in a central role and the avoidance of any serious injuries.

The 37-year-old is set to continue playing, having trigged a contract extension at West Brom.

Kazuyoshi Miura

Kazuyoshi Miura of J.League XI scores the third goal during a charity match

Japan’s Kazuyoshi Miura has adopted near-mythical status among football fans.

The striker, nicknamed King Kazu, is still an active player in Japan’s second division at the age of 51.

Miura made his debut in Brazil in 1986, and is currently the oldest professional player in the world. His career has taken him around the globe, from Brazil to Japan, Australia, Italy and Croatia.

Sir Stanley Matthews

Blackpool's forward Stanley Matthews (L) dribbles past Bolton's midfielder Barass during the English Cup final

Sir Stanley Matthews was and still is a football legend. The winger played until aged 50, and remains England’s oldest international at 42-years-old.

Matthews was a man ahead of his time, taking great care to exercise and eat a healthy diet. Such an approach didn’t take full hold in the sport for another 40 years.

He played for England in two World Cups, and produced a sensational performance to help Blackpool win the FA Cup in 1953.

Alessandro Costacurta

Alessandro Costacurta of Milan in action during the UEFA Champions League Group F match between AC Milan and Shakhtar Donetsk

Italy and AC Milan are synonymous with legendary defenders, and that includes Alessandro Costacurta.

He played more than 690 appearances for the San Siro side in a career lasting 20 years.

Costacurta won seven Serie A titles and five Champions Leagues. He only scored three league goals for Milan, but at 41-years-old he became the oldest Serie A goalscorer in history in his final league game.

Faryd Mondragon

Goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon of Koeln gestures during the Bundesliga match

Colombian goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon enjoyed a lengthy career for both club and country.

He played for 24 years for clubs ranging from Argentina to Germany, Turkey, France and America.

But he’s known as the oldest player in World Cup history, appearing for his country in the 2014 World Cup at the age of 43, breaking Roger Milla’s long-standing record.

Andres Iniesta

Andres Iniesta of FC Barcelona lifts the Joan Gamper trophy after the Joan Gamper trophy match

Andres Iniesta is the most decorated Spanish player of all-time. The midfielder has won nine La Liga titles with Barcelona, six Copa del Reys, four Champions Leagues, three Super Cups, and three Club World Cups.

Then there’s his winning goal in the 2010 World Cup final. Iniesta is also a two-time European Champion with Spain, as well.

Iniesta is leaving Barcelona this summer at the age of 34, but his exceptional career is set to continue elsewhere. Check out Coral’s look at the Barcelona ace’s career in more detail with this profile feature.



Richard Marsh