Old but Gold
This week saw arguably the most iconic member of the Goalkeeper’s Union, Gianluigi Buffon, extend his Juventus contract by a year, meaning we don’t have to bid ‘arrivederci’ to the seemingly evergreen ‘stopper just yet.
The new deal sees Buffon into his forty-third year, which got us thinking of other goalkeepers who have played at the highest level into their middle-age, an occurrence which has not appeared to be too rare in recent times.
Take a look at our picks of ‘keepers who have performed at high-levels well into their forties. These lot are like a set of fine wines.
First in our selection is Essam El-Hadary, who although isn’t considered a household name in Europe, is held in the highest regard in his native Egypt.
With a staggering 159 caps, El-Hadary made his World Cup debut in 2018 at the age of forty-five and the oldest to ever figure at the tournament, having made his international debut in 1996 (too put into context, before Dean Henderson was even born.)
El-Hadary enjoyed a pretty successful club career too, spending twelve seasons at Egypt’s most successful club, Al Ahly, before moving to Switzerland with FC Sion where he spent a season before moving back to his homeland.
At the age of forty-seven, the veteran finally hung up his gloves after his side Nogoom where relegated from Egypt’s top division, but very few can boast the longevity of El-Hadary’s international and club career.
From the World Cup’s oldest player to the World Cup’s oldest winner, Dino Zoff was playing at forty before it was cool.
Like Buffon, Zoff is a Juventus and Italian icon, winning the European Championship, a World Cup and even managed the national side to the final of Euro 2000.
Zoff is the pinnacle of a long career at the very top, having spent eleven years at Juventus in one of their most successful periods, winning an impressive six Serie A titles with ‘The Old Lady’.
With 112 caps for his country, Zoff opted to represent Italy right until his retirement in 1983, at forty-three-years-old, the same year he would call time on his career in Turin.
Playing past your forties was a big deal back in the 80’s, so winning a World Cup at that age in that time is quite astonishing.
He certainly wasn’t an ever present in his final few years in England with Leicester and Chelsea but Schwarzer forged a very successful career in the Premier League over eighteen years, namely as number one at Middlesbrough and Fulham.
Schwarzer also holds several records on the international scene, including Australia’s record appearance maker with 109 caps in the Socceroos’ most fruitful spell, and you guessed it, their oldest ever player.
The Australian was part of Leicester’s 2016 title winning side, although he did not make an appearance and called time on his career after eighteen uninterrupted seasons of Premier League football.