Will we ever see a player playing at 45 in top level European football?

horsechoker

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It doesn't seem possible at this point in time but in the future with the right conditioning, would somebody ever be able to cut it in the top European leagues beyond 40 years old?

Zlatan might get to 40 while playing in Serie A and Ronaldo could possibly do the same but would a footballer ever be able to make it to his mid-40s and still be able to play with the best.

What does a player require if they make it that far into their career?
 

SATA

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There's a Japanese player but i can't remember his name who is still playing currently in the professional Japanese league at the age of 53, if that counts

Right i just saw you mention European football in the thread title but i'll post it anyway
 

Lynty

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I don't think so. Maybe with incredible luck.

Tom Brady done by playing a very specific role.
Essam El-Hadary - played in the world cup at 45 - again in a specific role.

The problem is recovery times increase as you age. You could be the fittest, fastest and best player in the squad at 45, but 1 knock will put you out for a month, the same knock an 18 year old would return the next match. Financial it wouldn't make sense to keep a player with such a long recovery time.

No amount of physical conditioning can compensate for that. So until science finds away to solve it - no unfortunately.
 

Chief123

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It doesn't seem possible at this point in time but in the future with the right conditioning, would somebody ever be able to cut it in the top European leagues beyond 40 years old?

Zlatan might get to 40 while playing in Serie A and Ronaldo could possibly do the same but would a footballer ever be able to make it to his mid-40s and still be able to play with the best.

What does a player require if they make it that far into their career?
I don't think we'd see it unless we saw a super human who is not affected my external or material gains and purely wants to be the best physically and mentally. The biggest problem I think we have with players having longevity nowadays is players are earning a ridiculous amount of money from a very young age even if they are mediocre. Players don't need to have long careers to be set for life. So for someone to achieve it, they would have to take incredible care of their body physically and not indulge in the luxuries that are at an arms length from them. The motivation levels required would have to be incredible. The closest I've seen to it is Ronaldo. I can easily see him playing till he's 40, but even for him 45 is a stretch unless its a lower standard like MLS.
 

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I don't think an outfield player could cope at that age, even for just 20 minute substitute appearances etc.

Giggs, Ronaldo, Ibrahimovic are players that come to mind that could or have played at the highest level still at 40, but I think it is well known that these guys are in unbelievable condition and I don't think they'd make it to 45 playing at that level either. If an outfield player ever does it, I think they'd probably be a player-coach who is a bit of a freak of nature athletically like Ronaldo.
 

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You'll need a player with exceptional physical attributes who isn't reliant on their physical advantages to perform.

I think Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic could do it. You can see how Cristiano's instincts in the penalty box and finishing ability are almost timeless. He's coming from a physical ceiling beyond almost all of his opponents. And while that will be levelled off over the next few years, it's likely he'll still be in better shape than a lot of forwards and some defenders. Despite the drop-off, it is possible to be sufficiently athletic into one's 40s. For example, elite track and field athletes who still compete into their 40s will often be quicker or springier than many of today's more athletic footballers. Feasibly he could still be scoring goals in a top league in a few years' time. It's more a question of motivation and ego - in effect would he be satisfied slugging away at a lower table club for 10 goals a season? That's some fall in status for a man used to the kudos of being a top 3 player in the world for the last 15 years.
 

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Nothing to really do with the thread but I heard a nice statistic a few days ago. From 1932 to the present day, Stanley Matthews, Peter Shilton and Buffon between them have played every single season.
Matthews - 1932 to 65
Shilton - 1966 to 97
Buffon - 1995 to now.
 

Minkaro

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Just in the top leagues, or at the top of those leagues?

I’m thinking back to Teddy Sheringham. Wasn’t he 42 when he last played in the Premier League? But that was for a midtable team, iirc (Portsmouth, was it?)

At the very top level, it’s very unlikely. But maybe for a West Brom type club?
 

Damien

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Montpellier (Ligue 1) have a 43-year-old CB (Hilton) which is probably the closest you'll get to what you're talking about outside of a Goalkeeper like Buffon.
 

macheda14

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Giggs got to 40, with sports science the way it is it’s definitely possible. Players who don’t rely on physical attributes or are able to evolve their game into being a more playmaking type are the ones. However, the reason Giggs was able to do it was he stayed at the club for his whole life so had the place to be able to evolve whilst also the club and him being happy taking a more bit part role towards the end. You probably have to be at a top club through your peak for them to have the loyalty of keeping you on for so long and paying your wages.
 

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It doesn't seem possible at this point in time but in the future with the right conditioning, would somebody ever be able to cut it in the top European leagues beyond 40 years old?

Zlatan might get to 40 while playing in Serie A and Ronaldo could possibly do the same but would a footballer ever be able to make it to his mid-40s and still be able to play with the best.

What does a player require if they make it that far into their career?
Ze Roberto was 43 when he played his last game for Palmeiras. I could totally see this happening in a not distant future. Sport sciences & medicine keep progressing after all.
 

Steve Bruce

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I can understand people using sports science/medicine etc as an argument for people lasting to their mid 40s in a top league, but to counter that argument, it seems now that the vast vast majority of players burn out by the time they reach 30. The game is getting younger and younger.

It used to be someones prime was 28 to 32. Now it's around 24-29. Their is of course the odd anmoly.
 

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David Weir was 41 and still playing for Rangers I think. Not sure if that was before they got sent down the leagues though.
 

RashyForPM

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Montpellier (Ligue 1) have a 43-year-old CB (Hilton) which is probably the closest you'll get to what you're talking about outside of a Goalkeeper like Buffon.
Blimey. Anyway idea of how he fares against Neymar and Mbappe? :lol:
 

Gio

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David Weir was 41 and still playing for Rangers I think. Not sure if that was before they got sent down the leagues though.
That was before - he played against United in the Champions League at a few days shy of 41.
 

do.ob

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Sports science doesn't improve in a vacuum. When players get more fit coaches will demand more (intensive) running from them or start playing them at a younger age or FIFA will create another competition. We have already made the jump from full blown alcoholics to ascetic model professionals and it's hard for me to imagine a similar leap,. unless we get to a point where they just replace worn down body parts. Yet the basic time span of a footballer's career hasn't really changed a lot. If anything it perhaps got shorter.
 

Teja

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Sports science doesn't improve in a vacuum. When players get more fit coaches will demand more (intensive) running from them or start playing them at a younger age or FIFA will create another competition. We have already made the jump from full blown alcoholics to ascetic model professionals and it's hard for me to imagine a similar leap,. unless we get to a point where they just replace worn down body parts. Yet the basic time span of a footballer's career hasn't really changed a lot. If anything it perhaps got shorter.
Agree with this, but it's also the ageism dilemma - why bother at all with the 45 year old and all the baggage he brings when you can get a younger player filling the same role for possibly cheaper? If you're looking for experienced heads in the squad, maybe a coach can fill that role as well.

Has to be a truly special player (at their level) for a club to have them on board for that long.
 

André Dominguez

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Sports science doesn't improve in a vacuum. When players get more fit coaches will demand more (intensive) running from them or start playing them at a younger age or FIFA will create another competition. We have already made the jump from full blown alcoholics to ascetic model professionals and it's hard for me to imagine a similar leap,. unless we get to a point where they just replace worn down body parts. Yet the basic time span of a footballer's career hasn't really changed a lot. If anything it perhaps got shorter.
Already exists, but we don't have enough knowledge yet to make those bionic body parts effectively mix with the human body in order to function well in high performance sports. Usually that body part is just functional for day to day routines. That South African athlete was rather the exception than the norm.
 

Offside

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Giggs was 40 when he was arguably our MOTM in a champions league knockout tie. Would think in the future there will be a freak like that who can squeeze out 5 more years.
 

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Maybe a keeper. We could argue that Ronaldo at 35 is still playing competitive football at the top but he has definetly declined but is still hanging in for another two or three seasons. And he is the type of professional that has done everything in his power to stay as fit as possible. So in short. No.
 

DWelbz19

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Montpellier (Ligue 1) have a 43-year-old CB (Hilton) which is probably the closest you'll get to what you're talking about outside of a Goalkeeper like Buffon.
Played 28 League games last season in France. Fair play.
 

horsechoker

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MrMarcello

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Different sport but Jagr was playing at top level into his mid-40s which I never thought possible at NHL level.

I think Ronaldo and Zlatan can and will go past 40 but will it be in a top flight league remains to be seen.
 

Snow

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Depends on how long football will turn a blind eye to PED's. Maybe a 45 year old still playing will be the breaking point.

Romario played until 41 if that counts
He was also on PEDs trying to become the all-time goalscorer. We've got a cnut like that trying to snatch the Icelandic record by playing in the lowest division.

Note, the all-time goal record is held by Josef Biscan who retired at the age of 42.
 

DarkLord

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Remember 10 years ago, it was rare for a player to be still playing at the highest level at 35 yet Ronaldo has proved it, even though he's an outlier and then there's the age old when players are past 30, they are finished, as we've seen that players back in the day are considered "old" by 28 and their prime is supposed to be in their mid 20s. However, we're seeing more and more elite players still dominating past 30. Lewandowski and Aguero both 32. 45 might be pushing it a bit, it's something I can't even imagine right now but when I see how Federer (39), Nadal (34), Djokovic (33) are still playing at the highest level in one of the most physically and mentally demanding sport in the world, when most tennis players would be finished by their early 30s, it gives me hope that this could happen.
 

TheLord

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Gianluigi Buffon is almost there already, isn't he? He will be 43 years in January.

There will always be the inevitable biological decline after 30-odd years of life, but someone who had an enormous ceiling during his prime (like Messi, Ronaldo, Buffon, or Neuer) will still be solid in their mid to late 30s. And yes, better nutrition, better medical care, and better fitness regimes will push that age barrier further in the coming years.
 
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TheLord

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Towards the end of his time at United Rooney looked like he was a 45 year old.
And Kane already looks like a 30-year-old.
It is remarkable how some players age so early. It may be because of a combination of genetic-factors and injury-history.
 

Class of 63

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And Kane already looks like a 30-year-old.
It is remarkable how some players age so early. It may be because of a combination of genetic-factors and injury-history.
I meant he played more like a 45 year old at times but that was as much about him not looking after his fitness in his early 20's even though he was warned about it time and time again, as anything else.
 

RedRonaldo

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Among the best in the world - Ronaldo at 35
Among the top - Ibra at 35 at PSG/United
Good enough to play regularly in top league - Giggs at around 38-39
Good enough for backup role/squad rotation in top league - Buffon at 42
 

fps

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Hard to picture it, especially in the modern era where every player’s physical ability is monitored and maximised from the earliest age. It neutralises the kind of natural physicality that might, with hard work, still allow someone of that age to compete with a lazier 20 year old, etc.
 

LucasXXII

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There's a Japanese player but i can't remember his name who is still playing currently in the professional Japanese league at the age of 53, if that counts

Right i just saw you mention European football in the thread title but i'll post it anyway
Kazuyoshi Miura playing for J1 League's Yokohama FC at 53 years old. What I've read is that he's clearly not good enough for this level now, but kept playing because of sponsors and all that.

According to transfermarkt, the last season he played more than 1000 minutes was 2012, and his club was in J2 League until this season.
 

Lay

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Kazuyoshi Miura playing for J1 League's Yokohama FC at 53 years old. What I've read is that he's clearly not good enough for this level now, but kept playing because of sponsors and all that.

According to transfermarkt, the last season he played more than 1000 minutes was 2012, and his club was in J2 League until this season.
Yeah he rarely if ever plays. He’s a symbol more than a player
 

Patchbeard

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Remember 10 years ago, it was rare for a player to be still playing at the highest level at 35 yet Ronaldo has proved it, even though he's an outlier and then there's the age old when players are past 30, they are finished, as we've seen that players back in the day are considered "old" by 28 and their prime is supposed to be in their mid 20s. However, we're seeing more and more elite players still dominating past 30. Lewandowski and Aguero both 32. 45 might be pushing it a bit, it's something I can't even imagine right now but when I see how Federer (39), Nadal (34), Djokovic (33) are still playing at the highest level in one of the most physically and mentally demanding sport in the world, when most tennis players would be finished by their early 30s, it gives me hope that this could happen.
To be honest I would say it's still about as rare now as it was then. Ronaldo is an outlier as you say, 10 years ago you had players like Giggs & Seedorf, 15 years ago there were Cafu, Nedved, Maldini, Costacurta etc, more recently Di Natale, Pirlo & Zlatan. I guess the common theme is Serie A must be a slower pace than the other top leagues!