Published By: Admin

Age Is Not Even a Number - an Exploration of Football Greats Who Played Till Their 40s

For these players, age was never a barrier!

Long gone are the times when footballers hung up their boots at the age of 30. Thanks to advancements in diet, conditioning, and treatment, players are now able to prolong their careers. Improved pitches and equipment have also lessened the physical strain on footballers, making it increasingly common for them to remain active into their late 30s. Moreover, a select few have defied age barriers and continued to perform at a high level well into their 40s.

Paolo Maldini

Paolo Maldini retired from international football in 2002 without securing a trophy for Italy. However, the iconic defender continued to grace the pitch with AC Milan until 2009, where he achieved numerous triumphs with the Rossoneri. Maldini said goodbye to professional football in May 2009, making his final appearance in a 2-0 victory against Fiorentina, just before his 41st birthday. Having dedicated his entire career to Milan, the stylish defender received the ultimate honour as the club retired his iconic number 3 shirt following his final match.

Ryan Giggs 

Ryan Giggs burst onto the scene for Manchester United at the tender age of 17 in 1991, embarking on a remarkable journey that saw him amass a record-breaking 963 appearances for the Red Devils. The Welsh winger played a pivotal role in all 13 of United's Premier League title triumphs under the guidance of Sir Alex Ferguson. Despite Ferguson's departure, Giggs continued to grace the pitch for United until his retirement in May 2014, concluding his illustrious career at the age of 40.

Francesco Totti

Francesco Totti remained loyal to Roma throughout his entire career, turning down lucrative offers from some of Europe's top clubs, including Real Madrid. Even after winning only one Scudetto, two Coppa Italia titles, and two Supercoppa crowns with the Giallorossi, Totti's legacy is immortalized among Roma fans. As a World Cup champion with Italy in 2006, the forward bid a farewell befitting a hero to the supporters in May 2017. At the age of 40 years, eight months, and one day, Totti marked his final match with Roma in a memorable 3-2 victory over Genoa.

‘Il Capitano’ having a fitting farewell

Javier Zanetti

Following stints at Talleres and Banfield in Argentina, Javier Zanetti dedicated 19 remarkable seasons to Inter Milan from 1995 to 2014, amassing over 850 appearances for the Nerazzurri. The versatile left-back, who also earned 145 caps for Argentina, contributed significantly to Inter's success, clinching five Serie A titles and playing a crucial role in the treble-winning campaign of 2009/10. Zanetti bid farewell to professional football in May 2014, retiring just three months shy of his 41st birthday.


In his quest for 1,000 career goals, Romario continued playing into his 40s and achieved the milestone while representing Vasco da Gama in May 2007. However, the validity of this number is contested, as it includes goals from junior, friendly, and non-official matches. As a World Cup champion with Brazil in 1994, Romario retired in 2008 at the age of 42. He briefly came out of retirement the following year to fulfil his late father's wish by playing one game for America from Rio de Janeiro.

Roger Milla

Roger Milla emerged as a standout player during the 1990 World Cup at the remarkable age of 38, scoring four goals as Cameroon advanced to the last 16. After returning four years later, Milla became the oldest player in the World Cup at that time. He surpassed his own record by scoring against Russia, confirming his status as the tournament's oldest scorer. He concluded his club career in Indonesia at the remarkable age of 46.

Other standout players who played until their 40s include players like  Gianluigi Buffon, Stanley Matthews, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and Teddy Sheringham.