There have been some spectacular soccer players in the world cup through the years. Some of them have been new to the game at an elite level, while some are veterans with years of experience under their belts.
Before you check out the odds to win the world cup, we’re going to take a trip down memory lane and reflect on some of the oldest players to ever participate in a world cup tournament. Let’s dive in!
David James had quite the successful soccer career. He’s known for his skills as a goalkeeper, and entered the FIFA World Cup at the ripe age of 39 – two months short of 40! Since many players are retired by this age, it came as something of a surprise.
James played for the England National Team at the time of his world cup game in 2010, but unfortunately Germany won the game 4-1. He’s no longer playing soccer, but he was briefly a manager for Kerala Blasters.
40 year old Dino Zoff also played in the FIFA World Cup on July 11, 1982 during the Italy vs West Germany Game. He was the goal keeper for the Italy National Team and was a part of the Juventus FC when this game took place.
Zoff is something of a legend, in fact – he’s considered to be one of the most successful goalkeepers in history. He’s even been called the 3rd greatest goalkeepers by the IFFHS. It’s clear that Zoff’s age wasn’t a hindrance to this game in the world cup either, since Italy won 3-1. It’s clear that he’s well deserving of the title of the 3rd best goalkeeper!
El-Hadary was still playing soccer even at the ripe age of 45 years. He even played during the Egypt vs Saudi Arabia match on June 25th, 2018. He played for Egypt, but unfortunately this match wasn’t one of their most successful ones. They ultimately ended up losing the match to Saudi Arabia.
Still, throughout the course of his career, El-Hadary made quite the name for himself. He even won the AFCON title four times, and was called the best goalkeeper a number of times too. He is also the oldest player to compete in the World Cup to date.
Peter Shilton was rather far into his career by the time that he made it into the World Cup. At 32 years of age, Shilton played his very first World Cup final debut but he was 40 years of age when he played in the England v Italy match on July 7th, 1990.
This game ultimately ended in defeat for Shilton’s team, England. With that being said though, his career leading up to this point certainly made up for this one defeat. He even managed to keep 10 clean sheets.
Mondragon was 43 years old when he played in the Colombia vs Japan match on June 24, 2014. He was a goalkeeper for the Colombia National team. In fact, he even held the record for being the oldest player in the World Cup for quite some time. His team, Colombia, ended the match in defeat and soon after Mondragon announced that he was going to retire.
What’s especially interesting about him is that during the course of his career, he actually competed in six World Cup qualifying campaigns. He’s the only player to have done so, too. He started and ended his career with the same team – Deportivo Cali.
At 42 years of age, Roger Milla played the Cameroon vs Russia match on June 28th, 1994 as a striker. He’s even the oldest goalscorer to ever participate in a World Cup tournament to date. He’s managed to maintain this record for around 30 years. A player for the Cameroon National Team, he had a great career behind him.
Jennings is yet another player to play in the World Cup at an older age than most. In fact, he just turned 41 when he played the Northern Ireland vs Brazil match on June 12th, 1986. Sadly the match ended in defeat for Northern Ireland who lost 3-0 to Brazil. Throughout his career, he played both for Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur – only 7 other players can claim the same thing.
39 year old Rafael Marquez had quite the legacy at the time of the 2018 Fifa World Cup. He’s known to be the best defender for Mexico. He played 163 games for Barcelona and managed to score 9 goals. He started in the Mexico national team in 1997, and was even the first person to ever appear as captain for their team in five separate tournaments in the World Cup.
While many players retire at a younger age, it’s clear that many older players still have what it takes to make their teams successful. It’s quite the achievement to have such a long, successful career in soccer, and it will certainly be interesting to see if any players will soon play at an even older age.