This is a compilation of genuine world-class players who can take on any team despite their ever-increasing age.
The selection has been made based on personal opinion and credit has been given to older players who have managed to consistently play at the top level.
For example, if there are two players of roughly equal standards, preference is given to the older player because of his ability to maintain his form despite being older. In addition, this list has chosen players from at least nine different nationalities and six distinct leagues to avoid focusing on a particular set of players.
Goalkeeper: Gianluigi Buffon, 28/01/1978 (ITA)
The Juventus legend simply was a no brainer, as he maintains a solid place at both club and national levels. While there are good keepers out there, such as Roman Weidenfeller and Christian Abbiati, only keepers born after 1980 come up to Buffon’s standards.
Right-back: Javier Zanetti, 10/08/1973 (ARG)
After 845 games for Inter Milan, the Argentine legend still plays regularly for the Nerazurri. For any 30-year-old that would be great, but for a player who is nearly 40 that is nothing short of phenomenal.
He sustained an injury towards the end of last season, and it is not certain whether he will feature during the forthcoming season. Nevertheless, he fully merits a place in this squad.
Centre-back: Carles Puyol, 13/04/1978 (SPA)
Despite only making 22 appearances last season, Puyol has still managed to maintain a decent level of performance at the age of 35. Admittedly, as a Barcelona player you don’t defend much during games, but for a defender to look more solid than his defensive partner who is nearly a decade younger, it takes the best of the best.
Centre-back: Daniel Van Buyten, 07/02/1978 (BEL)
Another player who did not play too many games for his club last season, but at this level it is hard to find too many defenders that do. But whenever he was needed, he came in and performed wonderfully, especially in the Champions League semi-final against Barcelona, and as a result has earned a spot in this list.
Left-back: Ashley Cole, 20/12/1980 (ENG)
The Chelsea full-back made his hundredth appearance for England earlier this year, and does not look like slowing down. With Chelsea’s lack of competition for the left-back position, Cole’s reign does not look in danger, and most importantly his performances have been consistent.
Centre midfield: Xavi, 25/01/1980 (SPA)
Undoubtedly one of the best midfielders of his generation, Xavi still dictates the tempo of the game effortlessly, and he forms the epicentre of a legendary Barcelona team.
Although his pace is declining, it is not an integral part of his game and he looks to have a good number of seasons left in him.
Centre midfield: Andrea Pirlo, 19/05/1979 (ITA)
The legendary World Cup winner has rejuvenated his career since joining Juventus and winning two consecutive Serie A titles. His solid performances in the recent Confederations Cup show that he can still maintain high standards at the top level.
Right wing: Tomáš Rosický, 04/10/1980 (CZE)
A surprise decision, but well deserved for a player who made a miraculous recovery to help Arsenal qualify for the Champions League by putting in sublime performances in the second half of both of the last two seasons.
His burst of pace make him resemble a youthful player, and he has delivered at crucial times for Arsenal, and that has earned him a place in this team.
Attacking midfield: Ronaldinho, 21/03/1980 (BRA)
After helping Atletico Mineiro secure their first ever Copa Libertadores title, Ronaldinho may not have earned a call up to the Brazilian national team, but he has earned a spot in this team. In the domestic league, he still displays dazzling skills and superb set piece play, and that reminds everyone why he was once the best player in the world.
Left wing: Ryan Giggs, 23/11/1973 (WAL)
The 39-year-old is the oldest player on this list, and the Manchester United midfielder has played in every season since the inception of the Premier League, while he recently become a player-coach.
Although in recent times he has mainly played as a central midfielder, a list like this is created for a player of his calibre, and as result there was no way he was missing out.
Striker: Didier Drogba, 11/03/1978 (CIV)
Last but not least is the Chelsea legend that still plays in the Champions League for Turkish side Galatasaray. At 34, after having a stint in China with Shanghai Shenhua, he was able to wreak havoc on Real Madrid during their clash in the Champions League quarter-finals, and he showed exactly why he deserved the final spot.
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