Achy bones? Too old? Past it? Well there’s no such thing for these guys. They carried on their incredible careers at some ripe old ages.
With Egypt’s 44 year old goalkeeper, Essam El-Hadary, qualifying for the World Cup with his team, we take a look at some of the oldest players ever to have featured in a World Cup.
Essam El-Hadary – Egypt – 44 yrs old
Egypt qualified for their first World Cup since 1990 with a 2-1 win over Congo, meaning Essam El-Hadary could become the oldest player ever at a World Cup at 44 years old (assuming he is still in the team next summer). He is regarded as one of the best African goalkeepers of all time and Didier Drogba once said he was the best opponent he had ever faced.
When El-Hadary made his Egypt Debut, Tony Blair wasn’t yet Prime Minister, Mark Zuckerberg was only 12 and the MLS was only in its first season!
At 44 years old he is still going strong and could be on his way to Russia 2018!
Faryd Mondragon – Colombia – 43 yrs old
Mondragon has had something of a globe trotting career, playing for 15 teams in more than 5 different countries! His first World Cup was in 1994 and in 1998 he was described as the best goalkeeper in the first round. After a 2-0 defeat to England, that could’ve been more like a cricket score had it not been for his impressive saves, he broke down in tears and had to be consoled by David Seaman.
At the 2014 World Cup, he was subbed on against Japan in the final group game and became the oldest player ever to have featured in a World Cup. After Colombia were eliminated by Brazil, Mondragon announced his retirement.
Roger Milla – Cameroon – 42 yrs old
Milla retired from the Cameroon national team in 1987 and moved to a club in the Indian Ocean. Lovely, idillic retirement. But no! He sensationally came out of retirement to play at the 1990 World Cup at the age of 38. He turned up, scored four, danced round the corner flag and was named African Footballer of the Year. That’s some comeback!
He played in the 1994 World Cup and became the oldest goal scorer at a World Cup, breaking his own record. His last international appearance came in December 1994 and he is now an itinerant ambassador for African Causes.
His legacy though, lives on!
Peter Shilton – England – 40 yrs old
Shilton has played the most games for England, the most competitive appearances in world football and is regarded as one of the best goalkeepers ever. He has a massive haul of trophies and was on the receiving end of the infamous “Hand of God’ goal.
Italia ’90 was his last World Cup, finishing 4th, at 40 years old and with 120 caps. 15 as captain.
Shilton was never booked or sent off in his professional career, some feat considering the number of games he played!
Dino Zoff – Italy – 40 yrs old
Zoff is not only regarded as one of the greatest ever goalkeepers but as one of the greatest ever players. He helped Italy to their World Cup victory in 1982, where he became the oldest player ever to win the World Cup.
He went for 1142 minutes without conceding a goal between 1972-74. A run that was ended by Haiti in the 1974 World Cup, Haiti’s first ever goal at a World Cup. So he was never too far from the records.
After retiring in 1983, Zoff went into management, taking Italy to the finals of Euro 2000.
All but one of the oldest players ever in a World Cup are goalkeepers. So it seems that if you want a long playing career, stick those gloves on and get between the posts!