Just months away from his 37th birthday, Cristiano Ronaldo seems able to defy time. One of the best players to ever lace a pair of boots, he frequently proves the difference-maker for Manchester United – and five-time Ballon d’Or winner is the standout candidate for the title of the Premier League’s best-ever player over the age of 35.
Ronaldo, though, is far from the only player in Premier League history to have shown that age is just a number.
FourFourTwo recently compiled a list of the greatest veterans to grace the English top-flight and we’ve taken a look at it below. To give everyone else involved a chance to shine, Ronaldo has been omitted from consideration (we already know he’s pretty decent in fairness!)
10 Premier League players who earned rave reviews after turning 35 (excluding Cristiano Ronaldo)
Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Manchester United
We start at Old Trafford, where 35-year-old Ibrahimovic blasted 28 goals in all competitions for the Red Devils in 2016/17 season.
Many wondered if the charismatic Swede would be up for the challenge of life in the Premier League, having spent the prior four years dominating Ligue 1 with Paris Saint-Germain. Zlatan soon proved those fears unfounded. The less said about his injury-ravaged second season, however, the better.
Tugay Kerimoglu – Blackburn Rovers
Famous for smoking 20 cigarettes a day even as a Premier League player, Tugay was a firm favourite at Ewood Park between 2001 and 2009. Even after he hit his 35th birthday, he was still scoring absolute worldies for the Lancashire club, including a stunner against Tottenham at the age of 36.
Gary Speed – Bolton Wanderers
After a distinguished career in which he starred for Leeds, Newcastle and Everton, Speed had plenty left to offer as made the switch to the Reebok Stadium in July 2004. Still going strong for Sam Allardyce’s men two seasons later at the age of 37, Speed netted on eight occasions in the 2006/07 season.
Gary McAllister – Liverpool
When Liverpool sealed a treble of trophies in the 2000/01 season, McAllister proved a crucial figure. Despite being in the twilight of his career at 35, the veteran Scotsman helped the Reds lift the League Cup, FA Cup and UEFA Cup in a whirlwind few months for Gerard Houllier’s side.
As outstanding as his cup performances were, though, McAllister further secured his place in the hearts of Liverpool fans with a stunning 94th-minute winner against Everton in the Premier League. That three points ensured that Champions League football would be played at Anfield the following season.
It’s little wonder that Houllier later called McAllister the “most inspirational signing” of his reign.
Teddy Sheringham – Tottenham
Turning down Sir Alex Ferguson can’t be the easiest of things to do, but it’s exactly what Teddy Sheringham did when choosing to leave Manchester United to rejoin Tottenham in 2001, aged 35.
Across the next two seasons, he was a key man for Spurs scoring 22 Premier League goals in that period, completely vindicating his decision not to remain a bit-part player at Old Trafford.
Les Ferdinand – Leicester City
Eyebrows were understandably raised when Ferdinand signed for the Foxes in 2003. After all, at 37, it was fair to assume that his best days were behind him.
Perhaps they were. That didn’t stop him scoring goals, though. The 12 Premier League strikes Ferdinand bagged across the campaign were enough to see him crowned the club’s Player of the Year.
Gordon Strachan – Leeds United
Fans at Elland Road believed Scottish midfielder Strachan was a diminished force when he signed for the club in 1989. Less than three years later, he was lifting the league title as captain of the club at the age of 35.
Strachan continued to represent the Whites in the first two seasons of the Premier League. In his final campaign for Leeds – aged 37 – he played no less than 37 games, helping his side finish fifth in the table.
Fernando Hierro – Bolton Wanderers
Let it never be said that Sam Allardyce didn’t know how to get the best out of a veteran during his time as Bolton boss.
Persuading Hierro, a former three-time Champions League winner with Real Madrid, to venture to Lancashire can’t have been the easiest assignment, but Big Sam managed it.
The Spaniard made 28 appearances for Wanderers in the 2004/05 season, helping marshall the club to a sixth-place finish. Not bad for a 36-year-old.
Glenn Murray – Brighton and Hove Albion
Murray was a big part of Brighton’s promotion to the Premier League in 2017 – and he continued to find the back of the net the following year in the top-flight. He might have been 35, but that didn’t prevent him bagging a dozen goals for the Seagulls during the campaign.
At one point, fans were even calling for Murray to get an England call-up as a result of his sensational form. Unfortunately for the man himself, it wasn’t to be.
Ryan Giggs – Manchester United
With 632 Premier League appearances to his name, Ryan Giggs had an incredible 22-year stint in the English top-flight.
Although he transitioned from a pacey winger into a creative force in the middle of the park towards the end of that period, he still picked up a Premier League and Champions League double at the age of 35. Then, 12 months later, he bagged the PFA Player of the Year award.
Manchester United’s all time appearance record holder was staggeringly good even in the final months of his playing days.
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