In all professional sports, the age of those competing often makes a big difference in how well they perform. This is especially true in football, where players spend over 90 minutes nearly constantly running.
The average age that a football player retires is between 34 and 36 years old. However, some notable players played into their 40’s and even later.
Here is a look at some of the oldest football players in the world.
Endō Yasuhito – 43
We start off our list with Endō Yasuhito, a Japanese midfielder who got his start in 1998 at the age of 18.
His entire career was spent playing for Japan. Most notably, he appeared in over 600 games for the club Gamba Osaka over 20 years, scoring almost 100 goals for the club during that time.
Yasuhito also won two Asian Cups playing for Japan’s national team, “The Samurai Blue”, and also played in three World Cup tournaments. He has yet to retire, currently playing for Júbilo Iwata.
Shunsuke Nakamura – 44
Another Japanese player, Shunsuke Nakamura was 44 years old when he retired in 2022.
Nakamura was one of the best Japanese players of all time, known for his incredible accuracy, and being able to score fantastic goals from long distances.
He played for club Celtic in Scotland from 2005-2009, where he was a fan favourite. Nakamura also played a key role for the Japanese national team, where he made close to 100 appearances. He won the AFC Asian Cup in both 2000 and 2004 and is the only player to receive the J League’s Player of the Year award twice, first in 2000, and then again in 2013.
Today, he’s the team coach for Yokohama FC.
Vitorino Hilton – 44
Vitorino Hilton played as a center back until his retirement in 2022 at 44 years old. He got his start in 1999 playing for Paraná Clube in Brazil, before eventually moving on to play in France.
Hilton was well-respected among his peers and was known for his strength and tackling skills.
From 2011-2021 he played for Montpellier, before announcing his retirement. Later that year, he stated that he wanted to join the sport once more, signing a 5-month contract with Sète, which would be his last team before retiring for good.
Gianluigi Buffon – 45
Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon retired at the end of last season after a lengthy playing career. He only played for three clubs throughout his career: Parma, Juventus and Paris Saint Germain. At the time of his retirement, he hung up his gloves as keeper for Parma.
He played in every World Cup between 1998-2014, of which his team beat France in penalty kicks to win the 2006 World Cup, where Gianluigi conceded only two goals that entire tournament.
He was also in every UEFA European Championship between 2004 – 2016, helping to bring his total caps won for Italy up to 176.
John Burridge – 45
John Burridge was an English goalkeeper who played for various clubs throughout his 28-year-long career between 1969 and 1997.
He was well-known for his outgoing personality and his love of playing practical jokes on his teammates. He retired at the age of 45, before moving on to coaching. In July 2019, he was signed as the goalkeeping consultant for Indian Super League club Kerala Blasters, where he remains today.
Essam El-Hadary – 45
Born in January of 1973, Essam El-Hadary was an Egyptian goalkeeper, who was regarded as one of the greatest African goalkeepers of all time.
He made history in 2018 when he became the oldest player to appear in a World Cup match at the age of 45, before retiring from international football that same year.
He played for several clubs in both Egypt and Saudi Arabia and helped the Egypt national team win the African Cup of Nations four times. After retirement, he would go on to be the goalkeeper coach for Egypt, Egypt U23, and finally Syria.
Paul Bastock – 47
Paul Bastock was an English goalkeeper who has played for several English teams throughout his career. He played professionally in non-league games and has over 1000 appearances.
He has only appeared in one game Since 2017 when Bastock was 47. However, he is not technically retired yet, meaning that it is still possible, however unlikely, for him to make a surprise return at 53 years old.
Stanley Matthews – 50
English footballer Stanley Matthews had his debut game on 19 March 1932. His exceptional play resulted in his reputation as one of the greatest players of all time, a title which many still consider to be true to this day.
He won the FA Cup with Stock City in 1953 with Blackpool and was awarded the Ballon d’Or 3 years later in 1956. Matthews played as an outside right and went on to make 54 appearances for England.
Matthews was awarded player of the year twice, once while playing for Blackpool in the 1947/48 season, and a second time while playing for Stoke City in the 1962/63 season.
He retired at 50 years old.
Miura Kazuyoshi – 56
Known as “King Kazu”, Miura Kazuyoshi is the oldest currently active professional football player.
In a career that so far has lasted nearly 40 seasons, the Japanese forward has played in Brazil, Japan, Italy, Croatia, Australia, and now Portugal.
He has one international title under his belt, having won the 1992 AFC Asian Cup playing with the Samurai Blue.
He still regularly plays and has not announced anything about retiring any time soon. He has 89 caps, and 55 goals for the Japanese National team, and is currently on loan playing for the Portuguese team Oliveirense. His current loan expires on 30 June.
Even at 56 years old, King Kazu is not quite old enough for Japan’s new “over-80’s” League.
Robert Carmona – 61
Robert Carmona comes in as the oldest player on this list, still playing official matches today at 61 years old. He has never played an international match, only playing in the amateur leagues of the United States, Canada, Spain, and Italy with an impressive 2,200 official matches played.
He has had eight operations due to injury, but that has seldom stopped him from playing the game he loves.
Despite only playing in amateur leagues, it is still an impressive feat to be actively playing over 60 years old. He’s stated that he has no intention to stop playing any time soon.