Keeping up with the pace of modern football at an elite level is no easy task, particularly once a player hits their 35th birthday.
It’s at this point that most begin to seriously plan for life after the game, with retirement soon on the horizon.
However, a select few have resisted the call of father time to hang up their boots and have continued to thrive well into their 36th year and beyond, with some even playing on past the age of 40.
An XI put together by B/R Football featuring football’s top veterans has recently gone viral – and it’s packed full of talent.
We’ve taken a look at their line-up in full below.
B/R Football’s ‘Enjoy Them While You Can’ veterans XI
GK: Gianluigi Buffon | 44 years old
The second tier of Italian football might not be the pinnacle of the game, but legendary Italian shot-stopper Buffon has still appeared 26 times for Parma this season. Amazingly, he even signed a two-year contract extension back in February.
RB: Dani Alves | 39 years old
Having quit Brazilian side Sao Paulo back in September over a wage dispute, Alves has sensationally returned to his former club Barcelona to work alongside ex-teammate (and now Barca coach) Xavi.
CB: Pepe | 39 years old
Pepe might be rapidly heading towards his 40th birthday but he’s still lifting trophies, having won the Primeira Liga with Porto earlier this month. His conduct hasn’t necessarily improved with age, either. The former Real Madrid man was sent off back in February for his role in a 40-man brawl!
CB: Thiago Silva | 37 years old
Paris Saint-Germain refused to offer Silva a two-year contract back in 2020, as they feared his days as a top-level defender were behind him. A couple of seasons later, the Brazilian is still going strong at Chelsea and has signed on for another 12 months at Stamford Bridge.
LB: Giorgio Chiellini | 37 years old
Before the end of the month, Italy captain Chiellini will call time on both his international career and his 17-year spell with Juventus. His playing days aren’t done, though, with the MLS his most likely destination.
DM: Andres Iniesta | 38 years old
Rightfully considered one of the greatest midfielders of all time, 38-year-old Iniesta is still thrilling crowds in Japan’s J1 League, where he serves as captain for Vissel Kobe.
CM: Luka Modric | 36 years old
Croatian legend Modric turns 37 in September but is still undoubtedly one of the finest midfielders in Europe. His outstanding assist for Rodrygo Goes to score against Chelsea in the Champions League last month was one of the best passes you’ll see. Modric is still an absolute treat to watch.
CM: Joaquin | 40 years old
At an age where almost all of his peers are enjoying a well-earned retirement, Joaquin is still adding trophies to his resume with Real Betis. The Spaniard picked up a third career Copa del Rey trophy as Betis defeated his former club Valencia in last month’s final.
RW: Cristiano Ronaldo | 37 years old
Where would Manchester United have been this season without Ronaldo? The Red Devils have been decidedly underwhelming as a whole, but the five-time Ballon d’Or winner still managed to prove his quality – bagging 24 goals in 38 games across all competitions.
LW: Franck Ribery | 39 years old
Ribery has enjoyed a glittering career, claiming nine Bundesliga titles and the Champions League during a hugely-successful spell with Bayern Munich. Currently involved in a relegation scrap with Salernitana in Serie A, his surroundings today couldn’t be any more different – but Ribery is definitely up for the fight.
CF: Zlatan Ibrahimovic | 40 years old
A staggering 23 years into his senior career, Zlatan is still finding the net for AC Milan in Serie A. A return of eight goals in 26 outings isn’t too shabby for a man now in his fifth decade.
The complete XI…
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