11 of the world’s oldest footballers

John Burridge reacts after saving an effort from Hearts' Ian Baird, left. Picture: TSPL
John Burridge reacts after saving an effort from Hearts' Ian Baird, left. Picture: TSPL
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WITH the news that Stevenage goalkeeping coach Dave Beasant was named among the Boro’s substitute’s for their match against Carlisle United last weekend at the age of 55, we looked at some of the oldest players to have played the game.

As an aside, Carlisle had the relatively youthful ex-Hibs goalkeeper Tony Caig, 40, on the bench, while Stevenage went for young upstart Chris Day (39) in their starting XI.

Neil McBain holds the record for oldest player in Football League history - he made an appearance for New Brighton aged 51, in 1947 - while Chivas legend Salvador Reyes was honoured at the age of 71 by the Mexican side when he made the first kick in a game against Pumas in January 2008.

But who else enjoyed lengthy careers - and who’s still playing?

Kazuyoshi Miura, 47 - Yokohama FC (Japan)

Still occasionally turning out for Yokohama FC in Japan’s J.League Division 2 at the age of 47, Kazuyoshi ‘Kazu’ Miura travelled to Brazil at the age of 15 to further his football career, eventually signing professional terms with Santos in 1986. Spells with a number of other clubs in Brazil, including Palmeiras followed, until he arrived at Coritiba, where he scored twice in 21 games before returning to Santos, where he played 11 matches, scoring three goals.

He returned to Japan in 1990 to Yomiuru/Verdy Kawasaki (now known as Tokyo Verdy), where he scored 100 goals in 192 appearances between 1990 and 1998.

He also had spells with Vissel Kobe and Kyoto Purple Sanga in his homeland, as well as brief spells with Genoa and Dinamo Zagreb in Europe.

He had an unsuccessful trial with AFC Bournemouth in 1999, and scored 55 times for the national side, making 89 appearances in total.

Andrea Pierobon, 45 - Cittadella (Italy)

Goalkeeper Andrea Pierobon holds the record for being the oldest professional player in the history of Italian football.

Still appearing as a substitute for Serie B outfit AS Cittadella, Pierobon talks to his gloves before matches and started playing when Diego Maradona was tearing up Serie A for Napoli; Ruud Gullit had just become the most expensive footballer in the world and AC Milan had been saved from bankruptcy by someone named Silvio Berlusconi.

He agonisingly missed out on the chance to play in Serie A when Cittadella lost to Brescia in a play off in 2010.

Pierobon also acts as a role model for Cittadella’s youth players and plans to go into coaching at the end of this season, which he has already marked as his last.

Aleksandar Đurić, 44 - Tampines Rovers (Singapore)

The name won’t ring many bells, but Aleksandar Đurić has had an eventful life, never mind football career.

He started out with his hometown side of FK Sloga Doboj, having already taken up kayaking aged 12 on the advice of a doctor.

He became junior kayaking champion of Yugoslavia at the age of 15, and was ranked 8th in the world by the time he was 17.

After joining the Yugoslav People’s Army aged 17, he became an officer but was instructed to leave his hometown by his father in order to preserve the family line.

Đurić left for Serbia with just 300 Deutsche Marks on him, where he played second division football for a year before travelling to Sweden where he trained with AIK Solna.

He was offered refugee status, which he rejected but the break-up of Yugoslavia left him stranded in Hungary without a recognised passport.

He spent time in the town’s cafes and restaurants before a family took him in, offering him a room and a trial at the local club, Szeged LC. During his time at the club, the Bosnian Olympic Committee called him up to the canoe team for the Barcelona 1992 Olympics - despite Đurić having not trained for two years. The committee couldn’t afford to pay his travel fees, so Đurić hitch-hiked to the city, via Austria and Slovenia. After a two-day trek he arrived in Barcelona, borrowing equipment from the Italian and Spanish teams to compete in the event, where he came last and was eliminated.

After the Olympics, he returned to Hungary and resumed his career with Szeged LC.

In 1994, he moved to Australia and signed with South Melbourne, plying his trade in the country until 1999, save for a brief stint in China with Locomotive Shanshan (now known as Jingtie Locomotive).

He moved to Singapore in 2000 and is still playing there, albeit in a player-coach capacity, with Tampines Rovers, with whom he’s scored 78 goals in 136 appearances since 2010.

Marco Ballotta, 43 - last club San Cesario, 2011-12

Another goalkeeper, Marco Ballotta made his debut in 1982 and hung up his boots 30 years later, after a successful career including spells with Modena, Parma, Reggiana and Lazio.

During his second spell with Lazio, between 2005 and 2008, he made 49 appearances, as a replacement for both former Italian national ‘keeper Angelo Peruzzi, and Matteo Sereni.

In October 2005, aged 41 years and 203 days, he set the record as the oldest player to make a Serie A appearance, breaking fellow shot-stopper Dino Zoff’s record of 41 years and 34 days,.

Ballotta helped Lazio to third in the league and a subsequent European spot, and although Fernando Muslera was handed the starting berth following his arrival, he let in five goals as I Biancocelesti suffered a 5-2 defeat at home to Inter Milan.

The veteran goalie took over from the Uruguayan ‘keeper, regaining the No 1 spot and started all of Lazio’s Champions League matches.

By playing in a 1-1 draw with Olympiacos in September 2007, the 43-year-old smashed the record held by fellow Italian Alessandro Costacurta as the oldest player to take part in the Champions League - Costacurta had been 40 years and 211 days old when AC Milan lost to AEK Athens in November 2006.

After retiring at the end of that season, and following a 35-day stint as general manager at Modena, Ballotta returned to playing for eighth-tier side Calcara Samoggia, signing as a striker and bagging 24 goals in 37 appearances before eventually hanging up his boots for good.

Faryd Mondragón, 43 - last club Deportivo Cali (Colombia), 2012-2014

AKA the man who stole Roger Milla’s crown as oldest World Cup player thanks to his five-minute cameo in Colombia’s final group match against Japan at the 2014 World Cup, Faryd Mondragón appeared at the 1992 Olympics, played in two Copa América tournaments, two CONCACAF Gold Cups, and the World Cups in 1994, 1998 and 2014.

He also played for 11 different clubs, in Germany, Turkey, Spain, France, the United States, Colombia, Argentina and Paraguay.

He joined Metz in 2001, helping the club avoid relegation from Ligue 1. However, he was convicted of using a false Greek passport, and was made to leave France as a result, joining Galatasaray in Turkey, where he made 185 appearances over the next six years.

He announced his retirement from the game after his substitute appearance in Cuiabá, coming on for David Ospina in order to surpass Milla’s record.

John Burridge, 43 - last club Blyth Spartans (England), 1997

‘Budgie’ will be best known to Scots as Hibernian goalkeeper when they won the Skol Cup in 1991, but the much-travelled ‘keeper played for an astonishing 28 other clubs, including 15 Football League teams - still an existing record.

He made his debut in 1969 while at Workington, before joining Blackpool (initially on loan) where he made over 130 appearances in total.

Lengthy spells followed at Aston Villa, Crystal Palace, Wolves, Sheffield United, Southampton, Newcastle and finally Hibernian, making over 60 appearances for each club and winning the League Cup with Villa in 1977; the Second Division title with Palace in 1978/79; a runners-up medal with Wolves in 1982/83 and the Anglo-Italian Cup with Blackpool in 1971.

He made four appearances for Manchester City, with the last coming on May 14, 1995 as a 43-year-old Burridge lined up for City in their 3-2 loss at home to QPR - this earned him the record of oldest player in the Premier League.

However, Tottenham goalkeeper Brad Friedel could eclipse Budgie if he plays at some point this season.

Teddy Sheringham, 42 - last club Colchester United, 2007-08

The former Manchester United striker can boast a number of records.

Apart from scoring Nottingham Forest’s first ever Premier League goal in 1991, he also became the third-oldest player to appear in an FA Cup Final when he played for West Ham in the 2006 final aged 40.

Sheringham is also the ninth-highest goalscorer in Premier League history (147 goals), the oldest outfield player to appear in a Premier League match (40 years, 272 days) and the oldest player to score in a Premier League match (40 years, 268 days).

When he joined Colchester United in 2007 at the age of 41, he was the oldest player across all four divisions of the Football League, scoring four goals for the U’s. While at Layer Road, Sheringham joined the elite list of players to have made over 700 League appearances in their career, but ended his career on a low note as Colchester were relegated from the Championship - their first demotion in nearly 20 years.

Rivaldo, 42 - last club Mogi Mirim (Brazil), 2014

Believe it or not, Rivaldo Vitor Borba Ferreira was still playing earlier this year for Mogi Mirim, where his son Rivaldinho is a player.

Inducted into the Brazilian Football Museum Hall of Fame and named as one of the top 100 greatest living players by FIFA in 2004, Rivaldo could best be summed up by his

The former World Player of the Year endured something of a nomadic career after leaving Barcelona in 2002 - following spells with Corinthians, Palmeiras and Deportivo La Coruna - joining AC Milan for two years, during which he returned to his homeland on loan with Cruzeiro.

In 2004 he joined Olympiacos (70 games, 34 goals) before moving to AEK Athens (35 games ,12 goals). He then spent two years in Uzbekistan with Bunyodkor, scoring 33 goals in 53 appearances, after signing a particularly lucrative contract.

He returned to Brazil, announcing he had signed for Mogi Mirim, but joined Sao Paulo, where he played 30 times, netting five times.

A brief spell in Angola with Kabuscorp was followed up with a swift return to South America with Sao Caetano in 2013, before he finally rejoined Mogi Mirim in a deal until 2015, but retired after playing just one league match to take up the position as club president.

Roger Milla, 42 - last club Putra Samarinda (Indonesia), 1995-96

It wouldn’t be an ‘old git footballers’ article without the venerable Cameroonian, would it?

Roger Milla’s consolation goal as Russia crushed the Indomitable Lions 6-1 at the 1994 World Cup in the United States secured his place in football history, as the oldest goalscorer in a World Cup tournament - breaking his own record set at the previous World Cup in 1990.

In fact, until Faryd Mondragon’s appearance between the sticks for Colombia at the 2014 World Cup at the age of 43, Milla also held the record as oldest player (42 years old) to ever appear at the tournament.

After retiring from playing at the age of 44, Milla took a break from football between 1996 and 2001, before joining the coaching staff at former club Montpellier until 2007, when he returned to another former club, Tonnerre Yaoundé, as manager.

He became the club’s director of football in 2011, and left in 2012.

Now an ambassador for African causes, Milla is fondly remembered as the player responsible for daft goal celebrations, after his corner flag dancing following his goals at Italia 90. And that Coca Cola advert in 2010.

Andy Legg, 42 - last club Llanelli (Wales), 2007-12

Andy Legg was known for having the longest throw-in in football, regularly chucking the ball over 30 metres and once holding the world record for an astonishing 44.6 metre throw.

A supervisor in a shelving systems factory and Forestry Commission worker after leaving school, he joined Swansea City in 1988, making 163 appearances and scoring 29 goals.

Legg enjoyed a well-travelled career, turning out for Notts County, Birmingham, Ipswich, Reading, Cardiff, and Peterborough. While at Cardiff he underwent surgery to remove a non-malignant tumour from his neck in 2000, returning to play for the club until 2003, when he left after being asked to take a 70 per cent pay-cut.

After joining Peterborough, a second lump appeared in Legg’s throat and after seeing a consultant, decided to go under the knife at the end of the season. However, a challenge in a match in January 2005 caused the lump to start hurting, and he booked himself in for an operation in April 2005, just days after making what turned out to be his last match as a professional.

He returned to football just under a year later, playing for Maesteg Park, Newport County, Llanelli and Hucknall Town, where he was made manager in January 2007. He resigned in September of that year after a poor start to the season, returning to Llanelli where he was appointed manager in April 2009.

As player-manager, he was part of the side that inflicted a shock defeat on Motherwell at Fir Park in July 2009, in the first qualifying round of the Europa League. His throw-in led to a corner being conceded by Motherwell, from which the only goal was scored by Stuart Jones.

David Weir, 40 - last club Rangers, 2007-12

A veritable whippersnapper alongside the likes of Kazuyoshi Miura, Weir holds the record as oldest ever Scottish football international thanks to his appearance against Lithuania in September 2010, at the age of 40 years and 116 days, breaking Jim Leighton’s previous record of 40 years and 78 days.

His appearance against Bursaspor in the Champions League for Rangers in December 2010 meant he equalled Alessandro Costacurta’s record as oldest outfield player to compete in the Champions League - Marco Ballotta still holds the overall record - but that game in Turkey meant that Weir eclipsed even Paolo Maldini, whose last Champions League appearance came when the No 3 was 39 years old.

Walter Smith also handed 18-year-old Darren Cole his debut at the Bursa Ataturk stadium in the same match.

Had Rangers played Bursaspor just a day later, Weir would have taken the crown from Costacurta - just a year after earning the accolade of being the oldest player to turn out for Rangers since the war.

And his Rangers debut against Dunfermline at the age of 36 years and 236 days also marked him out as the oldest debutant for the Ibrox side.

Still in football two years after finally hanging up his playing boots, Weir is currently assistant manager at Brentford.

• This is in no way an exhaustive list, and bonus mentions go to goalkeeping trio Ali Boumnijel, Pat Jennings and Peter Shilton, who all played international games in their 40s as well as Ryan Giggs, Brad Friedel, Javier Zanetti and Ray Wilkins, who all played into their 40s - and of course, Stanley Matthews, who played his final game for Stoke City at the age of 50.