Buffon, Giggs, Maldini, Totti and the stars who played past their 40th birthday

The legendary Juventus keeper has reached another landmark – off the field this time – and joins an elite group of performers to have belied their age

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    Gianluigi Buffon

    It remains unclear whether the 2017-18 campaign will be his last, but if the the iconic Italian is to bow out then he will do so having played beyond his 40th birthday and with an enviable collection of honours to his name which includes a World Cup triumph and eight Serie A titles with Juventus. Rightly considered to be one of, if not the greatest goalkeeper of all-time.

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    Ryan Giggs

    Has recently been handed the reins as Wales manager, but his playing days saw him spend over two decades as a first-team regular with Manchester United. Retired shortly after turning 40 with 13 Premier League titles, two Champions League crowns, an OBE and a record haul of 963 appearances for the Red Devils to his name.

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    Paolo Maldini

    Another one-club man, with 24 years spent as a senior professional at Italian giants AC Milan. Made his debut at the age of 16 and was named Best Defender at the UEFA Club Football Awards at 39. Made over 1,000 appearances for club and country, winning the Serie A title on seven occasions and the European Cup/Champions League five times.

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    Javier Zanetti

    The fourth player on this list to have made over 1,000 senior appearances, with 143 of those coming for Argentina and 858 for Inter during an iconic 19-year spell at the San Siro. Retired at the age of 40 in 2014 with a standing among the all-time greats safely secured, and is now working as vice-president with the Nerazzurri.

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    Francesco Totti

    Made his debut for Roma as a 16-year-old in March 1993 and brought the curtain down on a memorable career with his home-town club some 24 years later at the age of 40. A hero to a passionate fan base in the Italian capital, the classy playmaker won the Serie A title and World Cup during his playing days and has seen the last shirt he wore for Roma fired into space!

  6. Roger Milla

    Had already spent over 10 years turning out in European football by the time he burst onto the global scene with his legendary celebration at the 1990 World Cup. He was 38 then, but made history four years later when netting for Cameroon against Russia at the age of 42. Retired in 1996 as a two-time African Footballer of the Year and with a haul of over 450 goals for club and country.

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    Dino Zoff

    Like Buffon, a legendary goalkeeper who has his name forever etched into Juventus and Italian football folklore. Along with six Serie A titles and a UEFA Cup success, the iconic custodian helped his country to a European Championship crown in 1968. Some 14 years later, at the age of 40, he landed the biggest prize of all as he captained the Azzurri to World Cup glory in Spain.

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    Teddy Sheringham

    Remains the oldest outfield player to have turned out in the Premier League, having represented West Ham United in 2006 at the age of 40 years, eight months and 28 days. Had previously graced that level with Nottingham Forest, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United and Portsmouth and still sits 10th on the all-time scoring list in England’s top tier with 146 efforts to his name.

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    Stanley Matthews

    A remarkable talent and one of the finest English football has ever produced. ‘The Matthews Final’ FA Cup win was taken in with Blackpool, but he sandwiched that stint with two spells at Stoke City. Is the oldest player to have graced England’s top tier at the age of 50, was 42 when he won the last of his 54 England caps and is the only player to have been knighted prior to retirement. Legend.

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    Stuart Pearce

    Made his last professional appearance at the age of 41, for Manchester City in English football’s second tier. Spent the vast majority of his career prior to that among the elite with Coventry City, Nottingham Forest, Newcastle United and West Ham United. ‘Psycho’ also won 78 caps for England, with his iconic celebration against Spain at Euro 96 exorcising his penalty shootout demons from the 1990 World Cup semi-finals.

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    Alessandro Costacurta

    A debut for AC Milan was taken in before spending a spell on loan at Monza, and after that he formed part of a legendary defensive unit at the San Siro for 20 years. The classy centre-half boasts the same impressive haul of honours as fellow youth team graduate Maldini and slipped into retirement at the age of 41 – netting just his third goal for the Rossoneri in his final home appearance.

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    Peter Shilton

    Like Zoff before him, the England legend graced the World Cup finals at the age of 40, as the Three Lions reached the semi-finals at Italia 90. He retired from international football after that tournament with a record haul of 125 caps. A two-time European Cup winner with Nottingham Forest, the long-serving goalkeeper did not retire until the age of 47 at Leyton Orient – having made 1,005 league appearances.

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    Gordon Strachan

    Until Sheringham stole his record, the diminutive Scot had been the Premier League’s oldest outfield player. He represented Coventry City at 40 years and 83 days old during a spell as player-manager in 1997. Slipped into retirement at the end of the 1996-97 campaign, with the former Manchester United and Leeds United midfielder having most recently spent time in charge of his country’s national side.

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    Brad Friedel

    Hung up his gloves at the end of the 2014-15 season at 44 years of age. He was still on the books at Premier League side Tottenham at that time, with 18 years spent in England with Liverpool, Blackburn Rovers, Aston Villa and Spurs. The American goalkeeper, who is now in charge of MLS side New England Revolution, holds the record for most consecutive Premier League appearances – with that benchmark set at a remarkable 310 games.

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    Faryd Mondragon

    Best remembered for a six-year stint with Galatasaray between 2001 and 2007, another larger-than-life Colombian goalkeeper has a place in the history books courtesy of an outing for his country at the 2014 World Cup. Stepping off the bench during a group stage clash with Japan, the veteran shot-stopper became the oldest player to grace the grandest stage in football at the age of 43 years and three days.

  16. Kevin Phillips

    Graced the Premier League with Crystal Palace at the age of 40, having netted the winning penalty in an extra-time play-off final victory over former club Watford which carried the Eagles back to the top-flight. A Golden Boot and Golden Shoe winner, the diminutive frontman enjoyed his most productive spell at Sunderland in a little and large strike partnership with Niall Quinn – with eight England caps earned during a stint on Wearside.

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    Mark Schwarzer

    Part of Premier League title-winning squads at Chelsea and Leicester City while well into his 40s, although he made no top-flight appearances in either of those campaigns. The legendary Australian had become a back-up by then, having previously been undisputed first choice at Middlesbrough and Fulham. Graced the 2010 World Cup at the age of 38, but retired from international duty before the 2014 event in Brazil rolled around.

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    Kazuyoshi Miura

    A remarkable performer who appears to be in no rush to pen the final chapter in his distinguished career. Despite now being 50 years of age, the veteran frontman has committed to another year with Yokohama FC. Unsurprisingly no longer as prolific as he once was, the Japanese legend is one of only three players with 50-plus goals for his country – with his 14 efforts in a qualification campaign for the 1998 World Cup carrying Japan to their first finals appearance.