The 10 best footballers to play beyond 40

News emerged on Monday that Gianluigi Buffon had signed a new deal with current side Parma.

Buffon, now 44, will be a staggering 46 years old by the time that deals runs out, making him one of the oldest players to ever grace a pitch.

With this in mind, 101 have taken a look at the 10 best footballers to play beyond 40.

10. Teddy Sheringham (42)

Teddy Sheringham retired at the age of 42 years of age having played his last game for Colchester United.

Before this, Sheringham would enjoy fruitful spells with the likes of Manchester United and Tottenham.

Sheringham is also the 12th highest scorer in the history of the Premier League with 146 goals.

9. Rivaldo (41)

Rivaldo would retire at the age of 41 after a brief spell with Mogi Mirim which saw him make eight appearances.

Before that, the Brazilian had impressed most in Europe with FC Barcelona, ​​for whom he made 157 appearances and scored 86 goals.

All told, Rivaldo scored 293 goals in 553 games across his career and is currently the 7th highest goalscorer in the Brazil national team’s history.

8. Javier Zanetti (40)

Javier Zanetti retired at 40 years of age after spending the majority of his career with Inter Milan.

Zanetti made 858 appearances for Inter, helping them secure five Serie A titles and one Champions League.

The former/defensive fullback is now Vice-President of Inter, who retired his iconic no.4 shirt.

7. Peter Shilton (47)

Pete Shilton retired at 47 years of age at the end of the 1996/97 season.

The played goalkeeper for a plethora of clubs during his career but had the most caps for Leicester City, which is where he began his career.

Shilton holds the all-time record for the most competitive appearances in world football with 1,390.

He is also the England national team’s most-capped player with 125 – a record that is unlikely to be beaten anytime soon.

6. Francesco Totti (40)

Francesco Totti ended his career in 2017, just a few months before he was due to turn 41.

The Italian is the very definition of a one-club man, spending 24 years at his boyhood club, AS Roma.

Totti made 785 appearances for Roma and is their all-time top scorer with 307 goals.

Could Totti have won more if he had left Roma? Very likely so, but his career is a legendary one nonetheless.


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5. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (40)

The phrase ‘ageing like a fine wine’ fits very aptly with Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Ibra was always a quality player, but it is in his later years were the Swede really cemented himself as one of the greatest strikers of all time.

Ibrahimovic is still plying his trade in Italy with AC Milan at the age of 40 and will be well on his way to 41 by the time this season ends. Ibra has scored eight and assisted two in 15 league ties this term as Milan battle it out for the Serie A.

Before turning 40, Ibrahimovic excelled all over Europe, winning trophies in the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, England and France.

One of the only major trophies to elude him, however, remains the Champions League.

The 10 best footballers to play beyond 40

Zlatan Ibrahimovic playing for FC Barcelona in his younger years. (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images)

4. Gianluigi Buffon (44)

Buffon is one of the few players on this list still currently honing his craft. In a touching gesture Buffon, widely regarded as one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time, returned to his first ever club, Parma, this past summer and has since notched 23 outings for them.

Before this, Buffon had spent time at Juventus and PSG in his 40s. And though he was not Juve’s no.1 keeper in 2020/21, he would still play every game from the Round of 16 to the final as the Serie A powerhouse clinched the Coppa Italia.

In his earlier career, Buffon won a staggering 10 Serie A titles, countless domestic cup and the World Cup with Italy in 2006.

He also holds the record for most Series A appearances with 657 to his name.

3. Ryan Giggs (40)

Like Francesco Totti, Ryan Giggs would spend his entire career at one club, Manchester United.

All told, the Welshman made 954 appearances for the Red Devils, scoring 164 and assisting 250 in the process whilst also being instrumental in Manchester United dominating the English game up until Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013, which was just one year before Giggs hung up his boots.

Giggs is also the second-most capped player in the history of the Premier League with 632 appearances to his name.

2. Romario (42)

Romario retired at 42 years of age back in 2009 and is one of the world’s most prolific goalscorers.

The Brazilian spent much of his career in his home country, but also enjoyed spells with PSV and FC Barcelona – the latter of which he netted 34 in 46 for. For Brazil, meanwhile, he found the net on 55 occasions over 70 caps.

Romario is also the 4th-highest goalscorer in the history of football, netting 753 goals between 1985 and 2007 – only Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Pele have scored more competitive goals.

1. Paolo Maldini (41)

Paolo Maldini is one of, if not the greatest defender to grace a football pitch.

The Italian began his career with AC Milan and went on to spend his entire career there, notching 902 appearances and being a key part of some of the most feared sides in Europe.

Milan would win five Champions Leagues with Maldini at the back as well as seven Serie A titles. He retired in 2009 at 41 after making the second-most Serie A appearances (647).

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