Longevity of football players

Discussion in 'Football Forum' started by Zehner, Aug 12, 2018.

  1. Aug 12, 2018
    #1

    Zehner Full Member

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    Is it just me or do players retain their fitness for much longer than previous generations?

    I grew up with football players declining when they got past 30 and if someone played until 34, he was pretty old and usually a CB. Now we have many 32+ footballers who not only play but are still among the very best in their positions and play pretty far up the field: Ronaldo, Modric, Marcelo, Robben, Ribery, Pirlo, Iniesta, Ibrahimovic, Dani Alves, Quaresma (at least at this WC) among them even some who were injury prone and/or not known for their professionalism and I'm quite sure I still forgot more than enough. Some simply seem to refuse to age.

    I know there are cases like Scholes and Giggs but nowadays there seem to be much more of these types of players. How will long will this continue? Will Cristiano still be scoring 30+ goals a season aged 38? Is 35 the new 30 and we can now expect players to at least somewhat maintain their level until 33? Or has nothing changed at all and this is just me experiencing the end of the first generation I really saw from their teens to thirties?
  2. Aug 12, 2018
    #2

    Raw Full Member

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    The evolution of sports science technology, training methods and diets probably helps quite a bit.
  3. Aug 12, 2018
    #3

    Keeps It tidy Hates Messi

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    It would be offset by younger players getting better and better.
  4. Aug 12, 2018
    #4

    VorZakone What would Kenny G do?

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    I was a bit surprised seeing Modric put in those performances at the WC. He's 32 but played like a 25 year old.

    I wouldn't say 35 is the new 30 but you can definitely expect most top players today to perform till 32/33.
  5. Aug 12, 2018
    #5

    Rightnr Full Member

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    This, I feel, is seen across a lot of sports as sportspeople are becoming more professional.

    A similar phenomenon is being observed in tennis where young players are breaking through at a much later stage than before.
  6. Aug 12, 2018
    #6

    MrEleson Full Member

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    Iniesta played his last game for Barca at barely 34 years old and was a shadow of his former self pre-2013.

    Robben and Ribery are still good but can only be reliable for a handful of games a season at their current age whereas 10 years ago, they would be better for longer.

    Dani Alves is a shadow of his former self.

    Quaresma was okay at the world cup but he couldn't beat his man whatsoever from the games I saw - which reduced him to just making early crosses into the box or cutting in to try a trivela (one of which worked).

    Marcelo only very recently turned 30 so the jury is still out to see how long he can maintain his level.

    Only Ronaldo, Ibra, Modric have managed to maintain the level of their 20s somewhat and even then they had to adapt their game (apart from Modric). His game hasn't changed at all, he still has all the characteristics he did 8 years ago and doesn't look like slowing down anytime soon. It's insane he's only a year older than Iniesta.

    Maybe the newer generation being introduced just aren't good enough to oust the old one.
  7. Aug 12, 2018
    #7

    Keeps It tidy Hates Messi

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    That is not really happening in Football.
  8. Aug 12, 2018
    #8

    Rightnr Full Member

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    What I didn't spell out is that it is happening because older players are playing into their 30s, so the two are related.
  9. Aug 12, 2018
    #9

    Zehner Full Member

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    All true, they had to adapt to their age but I feel that these kind of adaptions happened earlier in former generations. I mean, all of these players played vital roles for clubs capable of winning the CL well beyond 30.

    Robben and Ribery when fit are starters for Bayern at 34 and 35 fighting of competition almost 15 years younger than them, Iniesta was a starter for a subpar but still league winning Barca side that nearly remained unbeaten last year and captained a Spanish side, fending of much younger world class players like Koke, Saul Niguez, Asensio and so forth. Dani Alves and Pirlo reached the CL final as starters aged what, 34+? Ronaldo at 33 is the CL top scorer and a golden boot contender. Ibrahimovic came back into a world class side after rupturing both cruciate ligaments aged 36 (!).

    I think all of these things were almost impossible to imagine 10 years ago. I have a hard time even remembering someone who had world class performances beyond 33 apart from Zidane 2006 before this generation.
  10. Aug 12, 2018
    #10

    settembrini Full Member

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    Older players today are fitter than older players of the past, but so are younger players, so competitively the balance is the same as always. Look at the squads of the top teams in the world and the majority of players will be guys in their 20s and there is no evidence of that changing soon.
  11. Aug 12, 2018
    #11

    The Bloody-Nine Full Member

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    Every player is finished at 30. This is common knowledge.
  12. Aug 12, 2018
    #12

    Snow Somewhere down the lane, a licky boom boom down

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    People just take better care of themselves. Only 20 years ago drinking culture was popular. SAF had put a stop to it at United only a few years earlier. Now if there are players that like a drink everyone knows who they are. Semi-pros train like professionals and stay away from partying. Players don't skimp on their fitness training and they watch what they eat.

    Another big factor is treatment of injuries. You can play with something nagging you in your early 20's that comes back to bite you some years later.

    In the current top team in Iceland the goalkeeper is 43 years old. He still got ace reflexes and he owes it to how well he takes care of himself but also how lucky he's been in his career with injuries.
  13. Aug 12, 2018
    #13

    MrEleson Full Member

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    I think it has as much to do with the newer generation not being as good as the old generation as it does with your theory of these guys having more longevity. Bayern haven't even got any direct replacements for Robben & Ribery as it stands: the only one being Coman and as decent as he is, he just doesn't have the same bracket of talent as those guys. Lets put it this way, could a 35 year old Ribery compete with the 27 year old version of himself? Could a 34 year old Robben compete with the 26 year old version of himself? Those respective iterations of both players would have pushed each one of them to retirement. But instead, Bayern have been giving them one year extensions every year simply because there is a serious lack of alternatives that are as talented out there.

    Iniesta starting for Spain is a fair shout but I wouldn't say the players he is fending off are World Class. I consider Koke, Saul and Asensio very good players but definitely not world class.

    Again with Alves, he did well with Juve but he had no real competition in that position so even in his old age, he was good enough for the most part but as soon as he came up against the very best, he was exposed (CL final & against Madrid for PSG last season).

    Also when Ibra came back from his injury he was nowhere near up to the demands of the premier league any longer.
  14. Aug 12, 2018
    #14

    do.ob Full Member

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    Sports science and professionalism probably helps preserve the abilities of players, but at the same time the game also got more and more demanding (with the evolution of pressing for example) and the starting age of professional careers also seems to have gone down, both of which will balance this to a certain degree.

    I also remember that Kahn, Lehmann, Maldini, Zanetti and Matthäus played until they were (almost) 40 years old, Figo played for Inter into his late 30s, Nesta, R. Carlos, Cafu, Cannavaro and del Piero played for top clubs deep into their 30s. Some players aging very well is nothing new.
  15. Aug 12, 2018
    #15

    Gio ★★★★★★★★

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    Greater professionalism, more advanced training methods and fewer on-field injuries from heavy tackles as a result of tighter refereeing.
  16. Aug 12, 2018
    #16

    JMack1234 Full Member

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    Look at the 2017 world team of the year. If I remember it right, all but one or two of them are over 30. I don't know if it's a new phenomenon or if the narrative of players turning to glue once they reach 30 is so entrenched that whenever a player disproves that it's a massive shock.

    However, I think a more interesting angle is that Messi and Ronaldo generation will probably be viewed as a golden generation for world football and many of the players coming up just don't look as good.
  17. Aug 12, 2018
    #17

    The Bloody-Nine Full Member

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    It's a Football Manager thing.
  18. Aug 12, 2018
    #18

    ekestubbe New Member

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    Wayne Rooney would disagree with this post.
  19. Aug 12, 2018
    #19

    Zehner Full Member

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    True, their 27 year old selves would push them out. But I don'th necessarily think that the new generation is less talented, Bayern simply had a hard time convincing the top talents to join them and Robbery is one of the main reasons for that. I mean, their counterparts in the current generation, exemplarily someone like Hazard, Bale, Coutinho, Isco or Sanchez would probably be able to overcome them but the fact that they are able to fend off players like Costa, Coman etc. is still amazing. I had the feeling that 10 years ago, a 34/35 year old winger was so done that even a player two or three tiers below him would've surpassed him.

    Most of the players you mentioned are centerbacks or goalies. I purposely didn't count those because I believe in this positions it's always been like that. Zanetti, Cafu and Figo are good shouts and I've completely forgotten about them. Amazing that Zanetti still gathered 3000 minutes in Serie A aged 38+. Roberto Carlos not so much, he left the big stage at 32.
  20. Aug 12, 2018
    #20

    Keeps It tidy Hates Messi

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    And France won the World Cup this year with an average age of 26 which is the usual average age of World Cup winners.
  21. Aug 13, 2018
    #21

    VeevaVee despite the protests, wears Ugg boots

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    Better peds innit
  22. Aug 13, 2018
    #22

    Bruno Marques New Member

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    Completely wrong. You just need to see that a 29 year old player that wants to play for Manchester United is ancient like most people on here would say. :lol::lol::lol::lol:
  23. Aug 13, 2018
    #23

    Keeps It tidy Hates Messi

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    Worth mentioning that France won the World Cup with 25 Year old CBs, 22 year old FBs, a 19 year old being one of their most important players, only three players over 30 starting(Lloris, Giroud, Matiudi) and the youngest average age of World Cup squads.